We are here to help!
- Did you wake up with itchy, oozing, red eyes?
- Are you seeing dark spots, flashes of lights or floaters all of a sudden?
- Did you sleep in your contacts last night & now you don’t know if they’re still in?
- Did you have an accident & now you are experiencing eye pain or blurred vision?
Our office is open 7 days a week with same-day appointments available and walk-ins are welcome during normal business hours. Should you require immediate eye care attention, our eye doctor will see you to make sure everything is okay.
If your emergency is life-threatening, please contact 911 and go to your local ER.
What’s an eye emergency?
Symptoms of an eye emergency include but are not limited to:
- Eye trauma
- Foreign materials stuck in your eyes (especially metal or chemical)
- Sudden loss of vision, in either both eyes or one eye
- Eye infections, such as “pink eye” and other bacterial infections
- Irritable, itchy or uncomfortable eyes
- Red or painful eyes
- Flashes of light in your vision
- “Floaters” in your vision
- A scratch to your eye
- Broken, lost or dislodged contact lenses
- Chemical burns
- Eye allergies
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, please don’t “wait it out.” Many of these eye emergencies require immediate and urgent care. Please contact our office for guidance and schedule an appointment.
Should I go to the eye doctor or to the ER?
Unless you need immediate care during after-hours or unless your emergency includes flesh wound and is life-threatening, you may be able to get faster and better quality service at your local eye doctor.
- Most optometrists or ophthalmologists should be able to see you within 20-60 minutes, versus the 2-6 hours wait you may experience at the ER.
- Your eye doctor has the proper diagnostic tools to evaluate your eye injury. Most ERs do not have a slit lamp or any magnifying lenses available for the on-call optometrist or ophthalmologist to check your eyes up-close.
- Most ER doctors lack expertise in properly treating eye injuries and may use methods that can further scratch or bruise your eyes
- Office visit fees at your local eye doctor are usually cheaper than the fees charged by your hospital’s ER department
If you are unsure, please call our Irvine office at (949) 585-9403 and we’ll gladly guide you.
For eye emergencies that do not require immediate surgery, most emergency rooms will refer you back to an optometrist anyway.
What to do right after an eye injury?
Whenever an eye injury occurs, certain steps must be taken in order to prevent serious damage and visual loss.
- If someone has been exposed to a harmful chemical, immediate irrigation of the eye with water is of utmost importance, even before a phone call to the ER or to the eye doctor is made.
- If a blunt or penetrating injury of the eye occurs, manipulation of the eye should be avoided since further damage could be caused. A shield (such as a makeshift one cut from a Styrofoam cup) should be placed over the eye. A pressure patch on the eye may be harmful after trauma and should be avoided.
As a general rule, while waiting for medical attention:
- DO NOT press on an injured eye or allow the victim to rub the eye(s).
- DO NOT attempt to remove a foreign body that is resting on the cornea (the clear surface of the eye through which we see) or that appears to be embedded in any part of the eye.
- DO NOT use dry cotton (including cotton swabs) or sharp instruments (such as tweezers) on the eye.
- DO NOT attempt to remove an embedded object.
Call us with any questions and to make an appointment. For urgent care, Dr. Chang or one of her associates can see you same-day on most days.
Conditions you may be able to wait but require evaluation within 1-2 days
- Redness and/or discharge of the eyes
- Blisters or lumps on the eyes
- Aching pain in the eyes (acute pain requires immediate attention)
- Foreign body sensation
Common Eye Emergency Questions
I HAVE SAND, DIRT OR DUST IN MY EYE, IS IT DANGEROUS?Khiem2020-12-12T17:50:35-08:00
Any kind of foreign material in your eye can be dangerous. Usually, sand, dirt or dust can be flushed out of the eye with water, saline or contact lens solution. However, it can often scratch your cornea so you should see your optometrist if it feels irritated.
I HAVE SOMETHING STUCK IN MY EYE, HOW SHOULD I REMOVE IT?Khiem2020-12-12T17:48:18-08:00
You should never try to remove anything that is actually stuck in your eye. If you can’t flush it out with water or saline, you need to see your local eye doctor. Trying to remove a foreign object yourself will usually just embed it further.
If something has pierced your eye such as a coat hanger of a piece of metal, you will need to go to an emergency room immediately. Quick action can prevent retinal damage, vision loss or premature cataracts
MY EYES GET IRRITATED OR I FEEL LIKE I HAVE DIRT IN MY EYE WHEN I WEAR CONTACT LENSES, WHAT CAN I DO?Khiem2020-12-12T17:44:33-08:00
When wearing contact lenses, having a foreign body sensation or feeling you have dirt in your eye is caused by many different reasons. The most common reason is that your eyes are getting too dry or your contacts are dirty and old.
- For immediate temporary relief, use artificial tears or eye drops to see if it helps. We recommend single-use preservative-free eye drops, especially if you feel the need to use eye drops more than 4 times per day because we want to avoid preservatives disrupting your tear film and exacerbating your symptoms.
- If you’ve been over-wearing your contacts or sleeping in them, stop wearing your contacts for a few days to allow your eyes to rest and use a new pair of contact lenses.
- If you’ve been working on the computer a lot, look into the distance for 20 seconds to allow your eyes a chance to refocus after every 20 minutes of computer viewing and remember to blink. Studies have shown that people working at a computer or on their digital devices tend to blink less than half as often as normal and do not blink fully, which dries out their eyes. Blinking is important because with every blink, your eyelids spread a fresh layer of tears across the surface of your eyes to keep them moist, comfortable and healthy.
- If the foreign body sensation persists, please consult your optometrist. You may have an infection or you may suffer from chronic dry eye associated with meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). Your eye doctor may also recommend you try a different type or brand of contact lenses.
I ACCIDENTALLY SPILLED A CHEMICAL IN MY EYE, WHAT DO I DO?Khiem2020-12-12T17:41:10-08:00
A chemical burn in the eye is an eye emergency that needs immediate attention to minimize long-term negative consequences to your vision:
- Flush your eyes immediately with cold water or saline for 5-10 minutes
- If you are wearing contact lenses, remove and throw out your contact lenses. Your contact lenses will have absorbed whatever chemical you accidentally spilled or sprayed onto your eyes and it will be nearly impossible to thoroughly clean them in a way that will make them safe to re-use.
- Give your eyes at least 24 hours to rest before re-applying contacts or before wearing any make-up that may touch your eyes.
- Light chemical burns will make your eyes look red, moderate to severe burns will turn your eyes white. Visit your local eye doctor for immediate care if you suspect something more serious. Your optometrist may prescribe antibiotics to help the healing process if your injury includes corneal abrasion.
MY CHILD/CAT/DOG SCRATCHED MY EYE, WHAT SHOULD I DO?Khiem2020-12-12T16:39:25-08:00
If you feel pain or a feeling that something is in your eye, please contact us to determine the best treatment.
- Do NOT rub or touch your eyes as you can make it worse.
- If you are wearing contact lenses, take out your contacts on and do not wear them until you see your eye doctor.
- You may use artificial tears to irrigate the eye until you can be seen by your optometrist but a scratched eye should not be ignored, especially if you feel pain.
- Do NOT use redness-reducing eye drops like Visine
A scratched eye can get infected and may need antibiotics to heal. Your eye doctor may also prescribe a steroid to reduce inflammation. A scratched eye that does not heal correctly may leave a scar and will affect your long-term vision.
HOW BAD CAN A SCRATCH ON THE EYE BE? IS IT DANGEROUS?Khiem2020-12-12T16:42:36-08:00
A scratch on your cornea (the outer clear part of the eye that covers the colored iris part) can be dangerous because it can become infected or lead to scarring, which may cause reduced vision or blindness. Depending on how deep your scratch is, your eye doctor may prescribe antibiotics to address the infection or steroids to reduce inflammation so that your eye can heal properly.
This type of injury can also lead to another condition called “recurrent erosions” where the cornea has continued episodes of pain, light sensitivity, watering and possible scarring that become a chronic or lifetime problem.
I GOT HIT IN THE EYE, IS THAT BAD?Khiem2020-12-12T16:22:15-08:00
Yes, being hit in the eye with any kind of object can be dangerous. An immediate visit to your local eye doctor is recommended to ensure that you don’t have any corneal abrasion, bruising or internal bleeding of the eye.
I GOT A BLACK EYE, SHOULD I VISIT AN EYE DOCTOR?Khiem2020-12-12T16:19:23-08:00
Yes, just like blunt trauma to the eye, a black eye needs to be properly evaluated to rule out things like a corneal abrasion, inflammation inside of the eye, and possible internal bleeding or damage to the back part of your eye, the retina. An eye exam is strongly recommended to rule out any more serious eye emergency.
I HAVE A WEIRD BUMP ON OR AROUND MY EYE, WHAT SHOULD I DO?Khiem2020-12-12T16:16:36-08:00
There are many reasons you may have a bump on or around your eye. The most common ones are on, or under the lids and are called:
- stye: a small, red, painful lump that grows from the base of your eyelash or under the eyelid due to an infected oil gland or hair follicle. A stye may cause the eye to feel sore and scratchy.
- chalazion: a small, slow-growing lump or cyst that develops within the eyelid. They are not usually painful and rarely last longer than a few weeks. They develop when a meibomian gland at the edge of an eyelid becomes blocked or inflamed. A chalazion can sometimes develop into a stye.
The easiest way for you to get relief is to take the following steps:
- Use a warm compress to reduce swelling and inflammation every day.
- Clean your eyelids every day, twice a day by using a lid scrub or a hypochlorous acid (HOCl) cleansing spray. For lid scrub, we suggest OCuSOFT Lid Scrub Plus instead of the non-plus version because of its stronger anti-bacterial properties. For hypochlorous acid cleansing spray, we like Avenova, which you can buy in-office or on Amazon. The lid spray is more natural and may be better tolerated for people with sensitive skin.
If your stye or chalazion does not resolve itself within a few weeks, please consult your local optometrist for other treatment options and for the best treatment outcome,
I HAVE SEVERE PAIN IN MY EYE, WHAT DO I DO?Khiem2020-06-24T11:58:55-07:00
Severe pain in your eye is an eye emergency. Please contact us immediately for guidance and to schedule a same-day appointment.
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