If you are in Camas or Vancouver WA and you are having an eye emergency and it’s during business hours please call us at 360-205-1414
We asked Dr. Lewis about Eye Emergencies as his practice serves patients from both Camas and Vancouver WA on a regular basis. Most people don’t like waiting in a hospital waiting room during business hours when they can usually just walk in and get immediate help from an eye doctor with the latest in advanced technology. Dr. Lewis’s responses will be posted here as a 4 part series starting with some basic eye emergency questions.
Q: What is an eye infection?
A: Patients from Vancouver and Camas frequently schedule appointments for “pinkeye”. The medical term for this condition is called conjunctivitis. Typically there are three main causes of conjunctivitis: bacterial, viral, and allergic. Many patients attempt to self treat their “pinkeye” with over the counter eyedrops such as Visine and ClearEyes. These drops contain a chemical to constrict the blood vessels of the eye that temporarily make it less red. Unfortunately, these drops do nothing to address the underlying cause of the problem and therefore are not recommended. An eye examination is recommended to accurately diagnose the cause of the conjunctivitis, and to start an appropriate course of treatment.
Q: What should I do if I spill chemicals in my eye?
A: No matter what chemical gets into the eye, the most important thing to do is to rinse out the eye as soon as possible and as thoroughly as possible. If there is no eyewash station nearby, then use whatever water source is closest. This could be from a sink, a water fountain, or if outside, a hose. This rinsing should be done for up to 30 minutes, depending on the amount of chemical that gets in the eye. After that, an eye exam would be recommended to evaluate for damage.
Q: What should I do if I get sand, metal, or wood, in my eyes?
A: As with chemicals, the best thing would be to rinse out the foreign element if possible. If you are still in pain after this, or notice changes in vision, then you should have an eye exam with an eye doctor as soon as possible. Sometimes the foreign body will be flushed out after an incident, but the patient feels like there is something still in the eye. In many cases, this means the foreign body has caused a corneal abrasion (or scratch on the eye). The size and location of the scratch should be evaluated by an eye doctor to minimize the risk of infection and potential scarring to the cornea which could impact vision.
Q: What if I begin to see spots or floaters suddenly?
A: New spots or floaters in your vision should always be evaluated by an eye doctor. While most of the time floaters are not dangerous, sometimes they can indicate the presence of a retinal tear or retinal detachment. Symptoms of new flashes, floaters, curtains, cobwebs, spots, or shadows almost always warrant a dilated exam to rule out retinal problems. We usually recommend having an Optomap retinal exam in addition to being dilated in these cases.
Q: Are eye infections dangerous?
A: Eye infections can be dangerous if they are not treated. Bacterial corneal ulcers, especially those that form in the central cornea, can be sight threatening.
Q: Can my child go to school with an eye infection?
A: The most common type of childhood eye infection is a viral eye infection. These infections can be very contagious, and typically your eye doctor will recommend the child stay home from school for a few days to minimize the risk of spreading the infection to others. Bacterial infections can be contagious as well. To avoid spreading infection to others, you should wash hands frequently, and avoid sharing pillows or towels.
Part 2 will be posted in a few weeks!
For more information about what to do in an eye emergency in Vancouver or Camas WA click here.