Q1. How do I know whether I have a serious eye condition that needs to be treated urgently or just some mild irritation that will go away the next day?
A1. Usually a serious eye condition shows obvious signs and symptoms: blurred vision, redness, pain, discharge, itchiness or swelling. However, even if a mild sign or symptom does not improve within 24 hrs, you should consult an eye doctor.
Q2. What should I do if I spill chemicals in my eyes?
A2. Immediately rinse the eyes with water under a faucet, in a shower, or under a continuous stream of water from a clean container, keeping eyes wide open, for at least 20 min. If you wear contacts, then after the initial rinse, remove them and rinse your eyes again. Then seek medical help. Alkali chemicals (ammonia, bleach) do more damage than acidic ones (vinegar, concentrated lemon juice,…).
Q3. What should I do if I get sand, metal or wood in my eye?
A3. Flush the eyes with copious amount of clean water or saline. Remove the contact lenses if you wear ones. Do not rub your eyes as this can cause damage.
Pull out the lower lid and try to find the foreign object. If you see it, use a damp cotton swab to tap it out. Then rinse your eyes with water.
Q4. Can my child go to school with an eye infection?
A4. For the welfare of others, a child should see a doctor and get treated before returning to school. With the proper treatment, the child can go back to school 1 or 2 days later, because the infectious period is in the early stage of the infection. Also, check with your school officials for rules and regulations.
Q5. My child scratched my eye, what should I do?
A5. Injuries caused by “organic” objects such as finger nails, tree branches,… may introduce pathogenic amoebas (single-cell parasites) which cause serious painful eye infections that are very difficult to treat. Again, the first step is to flush your eye with copious amount of clean water (preferably sterile saline or contact lens storage solution, and then promptly consult with your eye doctor. The doctor may prescribe a special class of antibiotics for treatment, and multiple follow-ups are necessary.
Johan Tran, Ph.D., O.D.
For more information on Eye Emergencies please click here.