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Eye Emergencies (Pink/Red Eyes)

Pink Eye/Eye Infection

The term "Pink Eye" is a very common one and can often be confusing in terms of understanding what might be causing an eye to look red or pink. Any time an eye is inflammed, no matter what the cause; the eye will become pink to red in color. This is due to dilation of the blood vessels that supply the white of the eye (the "sclera") or the mucus membrane that covers the sclera called the "conjunctiva." Inflammation of the conjunctiva is commonly and medically termed "conjunctivitis." The causes of Pink Eye include, among others:

  • Infection (viral, bacterial, or other microorganisms)
  • Allergy
  • Toxic
  • Inflammatory (generalized or non-specific inflammation)
  • Trauma.

conjunctivitisInfectious conjunctivitis is most commonly caused by a variety of viruses known as adenovirus. These common viruses can in addition to conjunctivitis also cause respiratory infections and common colds.

Viral conjunctivitis often has a mild pink color to the white of the eye, and is associated with tearing, but no discharge of the eye. Currently there are no anti-viral medications for the treatment of common viral conjunctivitis, although research is going on for the development of such agents. Supportive treatment with warm compresses, lubricating agents, and possible anti-inflammatory agents are the current mainstay of therapy.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is most commonly characterized by the presence of a deeper looking redness to the eyes along with a green or yellow purulent discharge and mattering of the eyelids upon waking in the morning. Topical treatment with antibiotic eye drops is very successful in the management of bacterial conjunctivitis. A significant problem however is the development of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. The use of up-to-date, effective antibiotics is key in the management of this uncomfortable condition.

Allergic conjunctivitis is a very common eye condition and is characterized by pink looking eyes along with significant itching symptoms and occasionally associated with a white, stringy type of discharge. The symptoms may be seasonal, or can be year round depending on what the individual patient is allergic to.

Treatment of allergic conjunctivitis includes the use of cold compresses, lubrication of the eyes with tear drops, proper contact lens cleaning and hygiene, and the use of new types of anti-allergy prescription eye eye drops

Occasionally a pink looking eye may be associated with a more serious inflammatory condition called "Iritis" or "Uveitis." In rare instances Uveitis is associated with serious systemic general health diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, and many others. The treatment involves the use of topical and occasionally systemic steroid medications.

Should you or a family member suffer from any type of "Pink Eye," the first step is for you to contact your eye care professionals at Broward Eye Care. Our expertise and experience will allow you to be properly diagnosed and treated.

Eye Emergencies In Ft. Lauderdale, FL

We are always willing to help, should you ever experience an eye emergency. Our office provides emergency services for eye infections, eye injuries and other eye emergencies.  State of the art equipment allows us to examine the front surface of the eye and also digitally scan inside the eye for infection or damage We accommodate many eye emergencies such as:

      • Eye infections
      • Foreign materials stuck in the eyes
      • Eye trauma
      • Scratched eyes
      • Sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes
      • Lost or broken contact lenses or eyeglasses
      • Flashes of light in the vision
      • “Floaters” in the vision
      • Red or painful eyes
      • Dislodged contact lenses
      • Uncomfortable, itchy, or irritated eyes

As our eye doctor can explain during your next eye exam, studies have shown that an overwhelming number of emergency room visits could have been treated by an optometrist. These ranged from foreign bodies to severe eye allergies to eye infections as the most common reasons for emergency room visits. It is not always necessary to go to an emergency room for eye emergencies. Optometrists are equipped to treat the majority of eye emergencies.

We understand the importance of eye care when you encounter symptoms such as those listed above. These are signs that an immediate evaluation or consultation is necessary - please call us to set one up if you are experiencing an eye emergency of any kind.

Flashes & Floaters

floatersIt is very common for people to see tiny floaters from time to time. They become evident when you look at a uniform surface, especially white or blue (for example while looking at the sky). These common and occasionally seen floaters are of no concern. The eye is hollow like an egg. Within the hollow center of the eye is a gel called the vitreous. The vitreous is analogous to the white of an egg. Just like all gels, the solid component of the gel can form areas of coagulation. These small areas of more solid vitreous float in the gel and are what causes the occasional floater to be noticed. In addition, you can actually occasionally perceive blood cells flowing through the tiny vessels of the retina which can also result in the floaters you see. This is called an entoptic phenomenon.

A key warning sign of potential trouble is when you see a sudden onset of floaters. This is even more concerning when the sudden onset of floaters is dramatic and associated with hundreds and hundreds of floaters (a "shower of floaters") as if someone was shaking a pepper shaker in front of your eyes. Other significant warning signs of trouble include associated flashes of light and/or loss of peripheral (side) vision. Most often a sudden onset of floaters results in seeing only one or a few floaters. Typically they appear like a "cob-web" or "spider-like". This type of experience may be associated with some flashes of light for the first day or so only, but typically not associated with peripheral vision loss or hundreds of floaters. This very common condition is called Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD).floaters_1

This is a condition when the more solid portion of the vitreous separates from the watery or "aqueous" portion of the vitreous. PVD's are usually very frightening to patients when they occur due to a fear of retinal detachment. Fortunately, the vast majority of PVD's are benign and become less bothersome (in terms of noticing the floaters) over time. Virtually all persons will eventually have PVD. Not everyone perceives the symptoms of PVD, but it occurs with greater frequency with advancing age. It occurs at earlier ages in nearsighted (myopic) patients and with blunt eye trauma as well. Unfortunately, a small percentage of PVD's are associated with retinal tears (less than 1%). There can be traction on the retina as the more solid vitreous moves forward with PVD. This traction may result in a break in the retinal surface. The danger of a retinal tear is that fluid from the vitreous can seep under the tear and cause a retinal detachment, which is a very serious condition. It is very difficult to differentiate a PVD without break from a PVD with retinal break without performing an extensive examination of the vitreous and retina.

Foreign Body Removal

A foreign body is something such as an eyelash, sawdust, sand, or dirt can that gets into the eyes. The main symptom is irritation or pain. Depending on what it is and how the injury happened, the foreign body may pierce the eye and cause serious injury or it may simply go away with no long-term problem.

The foreign object may set off an inflammatory cascade, resulting in dilation of the surrounding vessels and subsequent edema of the lids, conjunctiva, and cornea. If not removed, a foreign body can cause infection.

If anything is stuck in your eye for more than a period of a couple of hours, you must immediately cease all attempts to remove it yourself. Keep in mind that the eyes are an extremely delicate organ and any attempts to try anything extraordinary with them can only have negative and adverse results. If the foreign body you are talking about is not bothering you too much, then you are advised to visit an eye doctor to take care of it. If not you may need to call to emergency service of your region.

If there is a foreign body in your eye, such as a piece of grit, your eye doctor may try and remove it. They will put anesthetic eye drops in your eye first, in order to numb it and prevent any pain.

If the foreign body is easy to get to, it may be possible to remove it by simply rinsing your eye with water, or by wiping it away with a cotton wool bud or triangle of a card. However, if this is unsuccessful, your eye doctor may try and remove the foreign body by lifting it out with the tip of a small metal instrument.

The foreign body could be stuck underneath your upper eyelid, especially if you can feel something there, or you have scratches or grazes (abrasions) on the top half of the transparent outer layer of your eye (cornea). If this is the case, it may be necessary to gently turn your eyelid inside out in order to remove the foreign body.

Once the anesthetic eye drops have worn off, your eye may feel a bit uncomfortable until your abrasion heals.

Whatever is happening with your eyes or if you suffer or even suspect that a foreign body has penetrated the outer eye layer better go without delay to the nearest treatment center. Doing nothing can lead to loss of vision, premature cataracts and damage to the retina so do not take any chances, the delay is dangerous.

Source: Removing a Foreign Body from Your Eye, article by All rights reserved.  Reproduction other than for one-time personal use is strictly prohibited.


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