Common Ocular Problems and Emergencies- Edward B Decker, MD
Everyone has had an issue with their eyes at some point in their life. While many conditions may resolve on their own, there are some that require more immediate medical attention.
Eye pain can be caused by numerous conditions: blepharitis, conjunctivitis, corneal abrasions or infections (ulcers), foreign bodies, and iritis or uveitis. Styes can become very painful and cause significant swelling of the eyelid. Most conjunctivitis or ‘pink eye’ will either be allergic or infectious. Over the counter allergy drops or prescription drops will relieve symptoms. Most infectious conjunctivitis is due to viral infections and will be self limiting. The bacterial type can result in damage to the eye and require treatment by antibiotic drops.
Corneal abrasions resulting from a scratch to the cornea are very painful.
Proper treatment includes antibiotic drops and possible placement of a bandage contact lens on the eye to induce healing and relieve pain.
Foreign bodies can lodge under the eyelid and be felt with each blink. Irrigating the eye with artificial tears or eyewash may dislodge the material but often need to be removed by an ophthalmologist.
Styes or hordeolum are caused by clogged eyelash follicle and meibomian gland. Warm compresses and topical antibiotics are usually used.
Significant swelling of eyelids may require oral antibiotics to prevent cellulitis.
Iritis/Uveitis is an inflammation within the eye. Caused by trauma, infection, or autoimmune conditions, it requires a proper examination to determine cause and treatment. Eyelid twitching is due to a spasm of the upper or lower eyelid and is very common. It’s annoying, but it generally harmless, resolving on its own.
Floaters are small spots that move within your vision and most often benign but can be a sign of a more serious condition. When accompanied by flashes of light they could signify development of a retinal tear, detachment,or bleeding within the eye. Without treatment permanent visual loss could occur.
Loss of vision can be due to numerous causes such as cataract, vascular occlusions and/or retinal detachments. Any loss of vision should be seen by an ophthalmologist for a complete work-up to determine the cause and initiate appropriate treatment.