Eye Health – Watch For These Warning Signs
By Daniel Cason l Doctor of Optometry at Rutzen Eye Specialist
It can be scary to notice a medical problem with any part of your body, especially if it’s your eyes or your vision. We all value our eyesight and want to do everything we can to take care of our eyes. When a new symptom develops, however, it is difficult to know if the symptom is a sign of a bigger problem that needs to be seen immediately or if it may be something that will resolve itself over time. .
Sometimes a quick internet search for advice yields more anxiety than answers. To help ease these concerns, I want to provide an eye doctor’s perspective on some symptoms you may be experiencing that require a quick review with your eye doctor.
It may be obvious, but if your eye becomes red, painful, or sensitive to light, it’s a good idea to see your eye doctor for an evaluation. This is especially true if you also have watery eyes or watery eyes. These symptoms can be caused by an infection or inflammation of the eye and often require treatment. An optometrist or ophthalmologist can evaluate your eyes under a microscope to determine the cause of your symptoms and prescribe treatment to address the problem if necessary.
Another symptom that ophthalmologists frequently deal with is floaters in vision (spots in your vision that seem to drift with eye movement). Having a few floaters that you only notice occasionally is common, but suddenly having lots of new floaters or feeling flashes of light can represent a problem in your retina. If you notice these symptoms, it’s best to see an eye doctor quickly (within the day, if possible) for a dilated exam, as these symptoms may be from a retinal tear or detachment that needs prompt treatment.
If there is a time when your vision becomes dark or dim in one or both eyes, it could be a sign of a serious eye problem. Even if vision returns soon after and appears to be back to normal, it can still be a sign of a problem with the eye itself, the blood vessels supplying the eye, or a neurological problem. A dilation eye exam can determine if there is an eye problem causing the problem. If nothing is found during the eye exam, your eye doctor may refer you to another type of specialist for additional testing to assess ocular blood flow or for neurological issues, if needed. Other signs of neurological problems involving the eyes that would require examination by an ophthalmologist include double vision, drooping of an eyelid, asymmetrical pupil sizes, or bulging eyes.
You should also seek prompt medical attention if you get a chemical or a piece of plastic, metal or other foreign substance in your eye. If you get any kind of harmful chemical, cleaning solution, or liquid in the eye, immediately flush the eye for 15-30 minutes with tap water or saline solution. After rinsing the eye, call your eye doctor or go to an urgent care center or the emergency room. If you think a foreign body is stuck in your eye, gently rinsing the eye with tap water or saline solution may help flush it out, but don’t try to remove anything from your eye by yourself. Your optometrist or ophthalmologist will be happy to take care of this, so you are not putting the eye at risk by trying to take care of it yourself.
This covers many situations that need to be assessed urgently. If you ever wonder if you need to be seen urgently for an eye problem, it’s always best to call your optometrist or ophthalmologist to discuss your symptoms so they can help you decide when to be seen.
Dr. Cason is located at Rutzen Eye Specialists & Laser Center, located at 489 Ritchie Highway, Suite 200, Severna Park. To make an appointment, call 410-975-0090 or learn more at www.rutzeneye.com.