Ocular Trauma and Emergencies

Our office is equipped to handle most eye injuries and emergencies. Eye injuries range from the very minor such as getting soap in your eye, to the catastrophic such as chemical exposures or lacerations, which could result in permanent loss of vision.

In most cases, continuing symptoms of pain, visual disturbance, decreased vision, or bleeding after an injury can be warning signs that require prompt medical attention. You can contact our 24/7 emergency service at 630-922-2661.

Some common injuries or conditions requiring immediate attention are

Corneal Foreign Body

A common injury is a metallic foreign body embedded in the cornea. Grinding or drilling in iron or other metals will release particles that are hot and when they hit the eye they embed themselves in the cornea. If it is iron, as in this example, it will immediately begin to rust due to the salty consistency of our tears. When the metal particle is removed, there is a remaining rust deposit that has infiltrated the surrounding cornea. We have experience at removing these rust spots. With proper medical treatment these injuries generally resolve well, but may require further treatment, including surgery. If the foreign particle was embedded in the central visual axis of the cornea, there may be a scar remaining which could affect the persons ultimate visual acuity. Safety glasses are always recommended to prevent these type of injuries.

Retinal Trauma or Detachment

If you have symptoms of “Flashes of Light” in your vision, when there is no light to explain the flashes, this could mean that there is something happening on the back of the eye (the retina). The retina is the nerve tissue that senses light, and lines the back of the eye. The retina does not have any pain sensors so flashes are your best clue that there is something wrong. Contusions, otherwise referred to as a “black eye”, or a compression type of injury can knock the retina loose and cause bleeding underneath. Both can result in blindness to the effected eye. Immediate examination and subsequent treatment is needed in these type of injuries. Retinal tears or detachments can also occur without injury. Seek immediate care if you notice a new onset of flashes or floaters.

Chemical Exposure or Burn

If you are not sure if the exposure is potentially serious, you have washed out your eye, and you have few symptoms, call our office to determine whether or not you should be seen immediately. If the substance was known to be caustic, immediate medical evaluation is needed, regardless of symptoms. Acids and alkalis are the worst and require immediate attention by our office or the nearest emergency department. If the substance is not dangerous, such as soap or suntan lotion, a visit to the emergency department is not necessary, but a visit to our office may be helpful to alleviate any remaining symptoms. When in doubt, seek medical attention.

Lacerations

Cuts that affect the eyelid margins (where the eyelashes are) or the eyeball itself need immediate medical attention. Foreign bodies that are not removed with gentle washing should be evaluated immediately by our office or the closest hospital emergency room.

Whether this is a cut that is directly on the eye itself or if it is just nearby it needs to be looked at immediately. Lacerations can lead to disease and infections, these lacerations need to be taken care of immediately before they can cause any more harm.


In general, if you are not sure if your injury or condition requires immediate medical attention, please call our office for advice.
Please visit our Eyecyclopedia for a comprehensive list of Ocular Diseases and Conditions
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