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Should You Go to Urgent Care for Eye Issues?

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A close-up of a woman checking her left eye which is possibly infected.

Your eyes are crucial, and your vision is a precious thing. When an eye emergency arises, like a scratch, infection, or traumatic injury, it’s crucial to seek professional care as soon as you can. So, should you go to urgent care for eye issues?

If you can’t get to an optometrist, and the issue isn’t severe, urgent care may be able to help. However, if your problem is significant, it may be better to visit emergency care. That way, you can take proper care of your eyes, and trust your sight to a team of experienced healthcare professionals.

When to Visit Urgent Care

Urgent care centers are a fantastic resource, helping people every single day. They’re designed to help when you need medical attention but aren’t facing anything life-threatening. They offer extended hours to keep it convenient and often see patients on a walk-in basis. This makes them an excellent option for unexpected health issues, such as:

  • Minor cuts and burns
  • Sprains or strains
  • Strong fevers
  • Infections
  • Stomach bugs

However, they aren’t just about general health. And if you’re experiencing an eye emergency, they might be the right choice for you.

What Is an Eye Emergency?

Sometimes, an eye issue can’t wait for a regular appointment. Some situations can pose a significant threat to your vision, eyes, and overall health, and it’s crucial to address these as soon as you can.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention:

  • Sudden vision loss
  • Severe eye pain
  • Foreign objects stuck in the eye
  • Chemical burns or splashes
  • Traumatic eye injuries
  • Unusual eye movements
  • Flashing lights or “floaters” in your vision

These are all signs of a serious underlying condition that can have long-lasting effects. Leaving these conditions unaddressed can lead to long-term vision loss and permanent damage to your eyes. This is why proper treatment is so crucial; it’s a necessary step toward protecting your vision and overall eye health.

In most situations, a nearby urgent care center can help—but if an emergency room is closer, they can help too!

Can an Optometrist Help with an Eye Emergency?

While urgent care centers and emergency rooms can help provide immediate attention for eye emergencies, they may not always be necessary. Sometimes, your optometrist can intervene—remember, they’re eye care professionals and have the specialized training and equipment needed to diagnose and treat a wide range of eye issues.

Your optometrist can likely help with the following situations:

  • Minor eye infections like pink eye
  • Small foreign objects in the eye (if they’re not deeply embedded)
  • Mild to moderate allergic reactions
  • Eye irritation from contact lens wear
  • Digital eye strain
  • Dry eyes

As an added bonus, if you’ve been there before, they already have an in-depth understanding of your eyes. If your optometrist is open and within reach, they can likely help with most eye issues you may face on a daily basis. However, for life-threatening or otherwise severe injuries, an emergency room is still ideal.

A close-up of a person's hands being washed using running water.

Tips for Preventing Eye Emergencies

When it comes to eye emergencies, prevention is often better than treatment. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to reduce the risk of eye injuries:

  • Wear protective eyewear during sports or high-risk activities
  • Handle chemicals and cleaning products with care
  • Wash your hands regularly to prevent the spread of infection
  • Keep your contact lenses clean and replace them as directed
  • Schedule regular eye exams with your optometrist to stay up-to-date on any changes

By prioritizing your eye safety you’ll be taking proactive steps toward keeping your vision sharp and your eyes healthy—and that’s always crucial.

Protecting Your Vision at Santa Cruz Optometric Center

At Santa Cruz Optometric Center, we understand just how important your vision is. That’s why we’re dedicated to providing high-quality eye care in a friendly, welcoming environment. If you’re experiencing an eye emergency or simply need a routine check-up, our team of skilled optometrists is here to help. Don’t wait for a problem to arise—book an appointment with us today!

Written by Total Vision

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