There is a lot of confusion about what optometrists really do. We are so stereotypically associated with asking people "Which is better, 1 or 2?" and correcting vision problems that people are sometimes surprised to hear that we do a lot more! To help with the confusion I decided to start this new blog series "I should see an eye doctor for that?". Some might surprise you, some might not. In today's blog I want to go review a situation where people assume they should go to an ER: Eye injuries
This is a topic that can be a bit tricky because optometrists deal with some eye injuries but not all of them. A good rule of thumb is that if it's bleeding heavily or the eye is actually punctured (as in you have a nail stuck in your eye) please go to the ER. If you come to me I'll be sending you out the door to the ER as quickly as possible!
So where do doctors of optometry fit in? For pretty much everything else! I both love and hate lists but sometimes they're the best way to get an idea across. So, below find a list of some of the different eye injuries optometrists address that you might not expect!
- Chemicals in the eye - If you have gotten a chemical in your eye (household cleaner, hydrogen peroxide based contact lens solution, etc) your first stop should be your sink or shower to rinse out as much as humanly possible. Your next stop should be your optometrist. We can fully assess the damage and get you started on the right medications to get you healing and prevent an infection.
- Objects in your eye - Like I mentioned above if something has punctured your eye (like a nail) or there's extreme bleeding you need to go to the ER for emergency treatment. If you have a piece of metal, small piece of wood or even an unknown object in your eye you can come and see me and I can remove it quickly and easily.
- Scratches on your eye - If you scratch your eye somehow (paper cuts and sharp baby fingernails are common) come in and get it looked at. Usually these heal up well but we can check to make sure the damage isn't too serious, prescribe medications to prevent an infection and help with pain. Regardless of how you scratch your eye get it checked!
- Impact to the eye - Did you get punched? Did your dog jump up and give you a black eye? Did you get hit in the face with a ball? These are all good reasons to come in and have your eye looked at. Usually there's just swelling and bruising from something like this but it's important to look at your retina. An impact to the eye that is hard enough to bruise can be enough to cause a retinal detachment and permanent vision loss.
If you're ever concerned about something related to your eyes and you aren't sure if your doctor of optometry is equipped to deal with your problem it's important that you call them and ask. Even if your optometrist isn't able to deal with something he or she can often put you in touch with the right people, such as the on call ophthalmologist, and get you seen and treated sooner.
These types of issues are covered completely by Alberta Health Care. There is generally no charge to you for this type of visit (this can be up to the doctor's discretion. At Eye Spy Optometry we never charge for this type of visit).