Optometrists and Eye Emergencies

Eye emergencies happen. Our first instinct may be to get to an emergency room or an urgent care for help, however that might not always be the best plan of action when dealing with the eyes. Oftentimes ERs are able to treat a wound, but they don’t always have the correct equipment to do a proper comprehensive eye examination; staff who specialize in eye care; and/or could potentially misdiagnose you resulting in permanent vision loss. Visiting your optometrist could be the best answer when dealing with an eye-related emergency. 

Nearly 25% of eye-related ER visits were determined to be non-emergencies and could have been treated by an optometrist in-office.¹ Unnecessary ER visits can be costly to the patient and even slow down care for others experiencing an emergency, too. There are many reasons to choose to visit an optometrist, but specifically in an eye emergency because they can treat six common eye care emergencies.   

  • Blunt Eye Trauma 
  • Eye Cut, Puncture or Foreign Body to the Eye or Eyelid 
  • Chemical Burn of the Eye 
  • Sudden Vision Changes or Loss 
  • Red Eye 
  • Pupils are Different Sizes (pupil anisocoria) 

Leaving these symptoms untreated for a long amount of time can lead to permanent damage, vision loss or blindness. Not to mention, these symptoms can be very irritating. Most eye doctors have emergency/urgent care hours for their office as they are experts in treating these types of problems and can help to keep your eyes and vision safe and healthy. Eye doctors want to help by providing convenient and quick care, so utilizing their urgent care after-hours for emergencies could be beneficial.   

Having consistent interactions with an eye care professional can help you determine if what you are experiencing is an actual emergency or something that is completely common and benign. Getting an annual comprehensive eye exam can help you to understand any eye conditions you might experience, for instance, a puffy eyelid; pink eye; or eye floaters. Eye doctors are also able to help diagnose many underlying health conditions that you might have through an eye exam which can illuminate paths for treatment. 

Optometrists are specialists of the eyes, and they know the best route to keep you healthy and seeing your best. Reach out to your optometrist to help you determine what options there are within their office for emergency care. If you don’t have an optometrist, click here to find one near you! An eye doctor should be the primary line of defense for your eye health and working with them will help you to be prepared if an eye emergency happens.  



  1. https://www.aaojournal.org/article/S0161-6420(16)31631-1/fulltext

Eye fact

Infants should have their first
comprehensive eye exam at 6-12 months of age, then at age 3 & 5 and after every year.

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