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Eye Emergencies

Pink Eye? It Could Be Coronavirus

How to prevent conjunctivitis and protect your eyes

When you have a virus, especially one that causes a hacking cough, runny nose, and other symptoms of a common cold or flu, it’s typical for your eyes to also get puffy and red. You may be suffering from viral conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye.

How do viruses get into your eyes?

It’s rather simple. When you’re sick, you can easily transfer viruses to your eyes by sneezing, coughing into your hands, or blowing your nose – and then touching the area around your eye.

The coronavirus – pink eye connection

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), doctors have discovered that COVID-19 can cause conjunctivitis. If you’re standing within six feet of an infected person, and they cough or sneeze, the virus can enter your eye. Alternatively, if someone sneezes and virus particles land on the shopping cart that you take and push around a store, and then you touch your eyes without washing your hands first – you’re giving the virus direct access.

However, despite the apparent ease with which coronavirus can infect eyes, the AAO reports that only about 1 – 3% of all patients with the virus contract pink eye.

Preventing pink eye

Like always, prevention is the most effective medicine! Eye care professionals recommend following these tips to help prevent getting viral conjunctivitis:

  • Wash your hands correctly

The CDC instructs people to wash their hands in accordance with these steps: wet your hands, turn off the tap, apply soap, lather and scrub for 20 seconds, turn on tap and rinse. Air dry your hands, use a disposable paper towel and discard it immediately, or use a clean (not shared) towel.

  • Keep your fingers away from your face

No rubbing or wiping your eyes! Even if you don’t feel any symptoms of coronavirus, it’s essential not to touch any part of your face. To wipe away tears or remove makeup, use a clean tissue.

  • Don’t share your personal things

As generous as you may feel about letting others use your personal items, now’s the time to keep things to yourself. For example, the CDC recommends not sharing eye drops, makeup, makeup brushes, contact lenses cases, pillowcases, or towels. Pink eye is highly contagious.

  • Consider wearing glasses instead of contacts

While there’s currently no evidence to prove that wearing contacts raises your risks of contracting the novel coronavirus, there’s some evidence that shows you can get Covid-19 by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes. In general, contact lenses wearers touch their eyes more often than people who wear eyeglasses, so it may be smart to make a temporary switch from contact lenses to glasses. However, this is only a friendly recommendation and not a hard-and-fast rule. If you prefer to stick with wearing contacts, washing your hands thoroughly can help keep you and your eyes safe.

Treatment for conjunctivitis

Regardless of whether your pink eye is caused by coronavirus or a different virus, there is no treatment for viral conjunctivitis. Usually, it goes away on its own within one to two weeks.

To alleviate your painful symptoms, eye doctors recommend:

  • Taking an over-the-counter pain medication, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or any anti-inflammatory drug
  • Applying a warm compress on your eye for a few minutes; take care to use a clean wash cloth each time and for each eye
  • Use artificial tears (lubricating eye drops) to soothe your eye irritation; don’t touch the bottle tip to your eye

Are you sick and have pink eye symptoms?

Now is not the time to make a DIY diagnosis. Eye redness, even if you have a virus, doesn’t necessarily indicate that you have conjunctivitis. A wide range of other conditions can lead to the same symptoms. Contact an eye doctor near you for help to figure out what’s causing your eye pain. Don’t visit your eye care practice without calling for guidance first, because extra precautions must be taken with patients who may have COVID-19

At Washington Eye Doctors, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 202-335-5032 or book an appointment online to see one of our Washington, D.C. eye doctors.

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My eye is tender and painful – is it an eye emergency?

How to know when you need emergency eye care

An eye emergency includes: chemicals or a foreign object getting into and irritating your eye, or suffering an injury or burn to your eye and/or the surrounding area. Typically, these occurrences will cause your eye to feel painful and tender. Sometimes the symptoms are temporary and heal on their own, but other times these problems can lead to some vision loss and permanent damage. Don’t take risks – your problem may be an eye emergency that requires treatment. Contact our eye doctor in Washington, D.C., , or , District of Columbia, for an urgent eye exam!

What are the common symptoms of an eye emergency?

The way you feel is individual, and eye emergencies span a wide array of incidents and symptoms, but the some signs include:

  • Vision loss, decreased vision
  • Stinging or burning
  • Severe itching
  • Redness and irritation
  • Discharge from the eye
  • Bleeding from the eye, blood in the white of your eye
  • Painful vision
  • Tender eye, bruising around the eye
  • Pupils that are not equal size
  • One eye is bulging
  • One eye isn’t moving like the other one
  • Double vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • New or severe headaches

These symptoms may be a warning sign that you need to visit an eye care center near you! Contact one of our Washington Eye Doctors optometry offices for assistance.

What should I do if I have an eye emergency?

The way you respond depends on the type of eye injury you’re dealing with. Here’s a review of the best first responses to an eye emergency, all of which should be followed by a visit to your eye doctor.

Eye cuts and puncture wounds

The most important guideline to follow is to NOT rub your eye or surrounding skin. Cover your eye with a hard, circular object, such as the bottom of a paper cup. Don’t put pressure on your eye while supporting this protective shield, and attach it over your eye gently with a piece of tape. Head to your eye doctor or nearby emergency eye care center immediately.

Blunt force trauma to your eye

If you get smacked in the eye with a ball or any forceful object, gently place an ice pack or cold compress against your eye as soon as possible. It’s important to keep your head elevated while doing this, in order to minimize inflammation. If you experience any changes to your vision or your eye is very painful and tender, visit your eye doctor.

Objects stuck in your eye

Don’t rub your eye, doing this can scratch your cornea by moving the foreign body around under your eyelid. If the object has penetrated your eye, don’t attempt to remove it on your own – go to an eye doctor for emergency eye care. If the object is not embedded in your eye, flush your eyes with water or an eye wash to rinse out the item, or use a damp swab of cotton to try to gently remove it. If you’re not successful, visit your eye care center.

When chemicals splash into your eye

Chemicals, including basic household cleaners, can damage your eye. The first thing to do is flush out your eye with water – immediately! Don’t cover your eye; instead, hold your eye wide open beneath a stream of water for about 15 minutes, allowing the water to run over it. Then contact your eye doctor for assistance, or visit an eye clinic near you for an eye exam.

Eye protection comes first

While we hope these tips will be helpful in the event of an eye emergency, the #1 tip we have to offer is to safeguard your eyes as much as possible so you never need to follow these instructions! Protective eyewear can prevent many eye emergencies. You can check out our collection of safety goggles and sports eyewear in Washington, D.C., , and , District of Columbia – we’ll match you with the best protective glasses for the activities you do.

At Washington Eye Doctors, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 202-335-5032 or book an appointment online to see one of our Washington, D.C. eye doctors.

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Why You Shouldn’t Visit the ER for Eye Emergencies During COVID-19

On April 22, the American Optometric Association (AOA) urged patients with emergency eye care needs to get in touch with their local optometrist prior to seeking treatment in hospital emergency rooms. Doing so not only eases the burden on emergency departments but also helps prevent the spread of COVID-19.

What Is Considered an Eye Emergency?

Most eye-related conditions can be treated in an outpatient optometry office or clinic. Emergency eye care includes, but is not limited to, urgent clinical advice or intervention for eye injuries and conditions that entail a foreign object in the eye, chemical burns, a sudden change in vision, flashes and floaters (which might suggest a retinal detachment), contact lens discomfort, red eyes and any other problems or symptoms that may impact or interfere with daily activities.

Prioritizing Your Eye Care Needs During COVID-19

During the coronavirus outbreak, we have been going above and beyond to ensure that people are receiving the emergency eye care they need.

Patients should first contact Washington Eye Doctors for guidance and potential treatment prior to heading to an overwhelmed hospital emergency room. Dr. Michael Rosenblatt can assess the level of care the patient needs—whether it’s telehealth or urgent care that requires a visit to the eye clinic or, in severe cases, even the emergency room.

This will ensure that patients get prompt treatment while allowing hospitals to conserve their resources for the current pandemic. In fact, research has shown that treating eye emergencies at eye doctors’ offices can potentially divert 1.4 million patients away from emergency rooms per year.

While we have closed our store for routine appointments, Washington Eye Doctors at Washington, D.C. continues to provide emergency care for those who need it. We’d like to reassure our patients that we are here to help with anyone’s emergency eye care requirements – for both for new and existing patients.

References:

https://www.visionmonday.com/eyecare/coronavirus-briefing/crisis-response-tactics/article/aoa-cautions-patients-against-avoidable-er-visits-for-primary-eyecare-services-during-covid19-pandemic/

COVID-19 –  What Constitutes an Eye Care Emergency? 

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An eye care emergency is defined as medical care for conditions requiring prompt medical attention due to a sudden change in ocular or visual health.

Eye trauma, chemical exposure to the eyes, foreign objects in the eye, and ocular infections are all considered eye emergencies and should be given immediate medical attention. If you have an eye emergency, it’s critical to get immediate care in order to avoid permanent damage to your vision.

While some may opt to visit an emergency room for an eye injury, research shows that most emergency room visits for eye emergencies could have been treated by an experienced optometrist. Furthermore, going to the hospital for an eye emergency during the coronavirus pandemic isn’t the fastest or safest way to treat the problem; the hospitals are already overloaded and you risk catching the virus during your visit.

Dr. Michael Rosenblatt can offer personalized treatment for a wide range of eye emergencies and other ocular conditions. Call Washington Eye Doctors for further instructions or call the number provided in the voicemail.

What Is an Eye Emergency?

Eye emergencies refer to any sudden onset of symptoms or obvious eye trauma that affect vision. These emergencies range from severe eye pain or vision loss to a sudden blow to the eye or chemical exposure. Call us if you experience any of the following:

  • Eye pain
  • Bleeding of the eye
  • Blood in the white of the eye
  • Swollen or bulging eye
  • Vision loss or double vision
  • New eye flashes or floaters
  • Pupils that are unequal in size
  • Severe photophobia (light sensitivity)
  • Being hit in the eye
  • Bruising around the eye
  • Eye discharge
  • Suspected eye infection
  • Severe burning, stinging, itching eyes
  • Scratched or cut eye or eyelid
  • Split contact lenses in the eye
  • A piece of broken eyeglass lens in your eye
  • Foreign object stuck in the eye

If you’re uncertain whether or not your condition is an emergency, contact Washington Eye Doctors immediately.

What Should I Do If I Have An Eye Emergency?

If you have a cut or foreign object in your eye, or if you suffered from other forms of eye trauma, DO NOT:

  • Rub your eye
  • Attempt to remove any foreign objects embedded in the eye
  • Use tweezers or swabs in your eye
  • Put any ointments or medication into your eye

First Aid for Eye Injuries

Refer to the following guidelines to prevent any long-term vision loss or eye damage.

Chemical Exposure

If a contact lens is in the eye, do not attempt to remove the contact lens using your fingers. Instead, flush saline solution or water over the lens immediately as it may dislodge the lens. Contact lenses can trap harmful chemicals against the cornea, causing unnecessary damage.

Seek emergency medical care promptly after flushing.

To avoid eye exposure to toxic or abrasive chemicals, always wear protective eyewear and use caution when handling these types of products.

Foreign Objects

Although your first instinct may be to rub your eye to get the foreign object out, try to resist the urge–as rubbing can further damage the eye.

If the object isn’t embedded in the eye, you may try to remove it by flushing it out. First, wash your hands with warm water and soap to prevent contamination or infection. Then, flush the eye thoroughly with clean water or preferably saline, if available. You can also try to induce tearing by using your fingers to gently lift the upper eyelid over the lower eyelid. Causing the eye to tear may flush out the foreign object.

If the object is visible, and not embedded on the eye, you can try to gently wipe it away with a damp, clean washcloth.

Seek immediate medical attention if the above methods do not work.

Blows to the Eye

To treat a black eye, apply a cold compress to decrease swelling and support healing. Use the compress for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, allowing the eye to rest between applications. A cold compress can be made by wrapping a bag of peas, or other soft frozen items, in a clean cloth.

Never place ice directly on the skin; use a clean cloth between the skin and ice.

Call Dr. Michael Rosenblatt immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms after the eye is impacted:

  • Changes in vision
  • Persistent or increasing pain
  • Bleeding or any blood on the outside or inside the eye
  • Any visible difference to the appearance of your eyes

Cut or Puncture to the Eye

This type of injury always requires immediate medical care, so after you call us, make sure to follow these precautionary measures to avoid further injury:

  • Don’t attempt to remove something embedded in the eye
  • Don’t wash the eye or eyelid
  • Try to shield the eye with something protective, for example – use a pad of cotton wool as an eye shield and tape it to the surrounding eye area

If you have an eye emergency, don’t delay treatment. Timing is everything — the earlier you get treatment, the less vision damage you’ll have over the long term. Take immediate action by contacting Washington Eye Doctors today. Dr. Michael Rosenblatt will treat any eye emergency you have or refer you to specialized care (i.e. surgery), as needed.

Washington Eye Doctors serves patients from Washington, D.C., all throughout District of Columbia.

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We are open and working our normal hours. Please read our safety protocols that we have put in to place to keep our patients and staff safe during this time.