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Eye Emergency? When should you seek medical attention for pink eye?

One of the common questions about pink eye is “is pink eye an emergency?”, many patients want to know if they can wait it out or need to schedule an emergency eye exam.

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Eye Emergency?  When should you seek medical attention for pink eye? Optometrist
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If you have pink eye you may be wondering if you can just wait it out or if you need to schedule an emergency eye exam immediately. Often times patients will tell us that they waited for hours on the weekend at the emergency room or urgent care for pink eye, because they were unsure if it could wait until we opened. As a general rule we have more experience and technology than a normal urgent care or emergency room and should be the first place to call if you are concerned about any potential eye emergency. 

While generally speaking pink eye is not an emergency, there are several situations in which you should seek medical attention for the pink eye as soon as possible:

  • If you have severe redness, swelling, or discharge that is not improving after a few days of home care.
  • If you have vision loss or extreme sensitivity to light.
  • If you have a compromised immune system, such as from cancer treatment or HIV/AIDS.
  • If you have diabetes or another chronic health condition that affects your eyes.
  • If you have pink eye in both eyes that is impacting your vision
  • If you have pink eye and are experiencing other symptoms, such as fever, headache, or pain in the eye These may be signs of a more serious eye condition that requires immediate treatment. 

In these cases, you can reach out to us right away to schedule an emergency eye exam and if your eye doctor is unavailable please visit a 24 hour emergency eye care center or emergency room.

What should you do if you have pink eye that is not in need of an emergency eye exam? 

We always encourage you to call your eye doctor's office before making a decision regarding the urgency to schedule an emergency eye exam. However as a general rule most cases of pink eye are not urgent, and do not require a trip to the emergency room (ER) or urgent care, however your eyes should be seen by your optometrist to reduce the possibility of any complications.

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Symptoms of pink eye

Pink eye may cause the following symptoms:

  • Redness in the affected eye or eyes
  • Itching in the affected eye or eyes
  • Swelling of the affected eye or eyes
  • Discharge from the affected eye or eyes (can be clear, yellow, or green in color)
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Burning sensation in the affected eye or eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Crusting of the eyelashes or eyelids
  • Swelling of the eyelids

The symptoms of pink eye may differ depending on the underlying cause. For instance, bacterial pink eye typically involves a thick, yellow, or green discharge, while allergic pink eye often involves itchy, watery eyes. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek a proper diagnosis and treatment from a qualified optometrist.

Do you need to visit the ER or Urgent care if you have pink eye?

Do you need to visit the ER or Urgent care if you have pink eye?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pink eye is one of the most common eye infections in the United States, with an estimated 6 million cases occurring each year. While some people think that visiting the ER or urgent care is a good idea, it is actually an optometrist that has the most experience and equipment to help you diagnose and treat your pink eye. If you are experiencing symptoms of pink eye, don't wait at the ER or urgent care to get medical attention, schedule an emergency eye exam with your eye doctor.

What is pink eye?

What is pink eye?

Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is a common eye condition that can affect people of all ages. It is characterized by redness, swelling, and discharge in the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelid. While the pink eye can be a minor inconvenience, it can also be a serious health problem if left untreated.

There are three main types of pink eye: viral, bacterial, and allergic. Each type requires a different treatment approach, so it is important to receive a proper diagnosis from a qualified eye doctor.

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Different causes of pink eye

Different causes of pink eye

Pink eye is highly contagious and can be spread through direct contact with the eye discharge, as well as through the sharing of towels, pillows, and other personal items. Pink eye can be caused by a variety of factors, including bacteria, viruses, allergies, and irritants such as smoke and chlorine.

How can I find an eye doctor for pink eye near me?

It is important to seek out a qualified and experienced eye doctor or optometrist if you are experiencing symptoms of pink eye. Eye doctors can provide the necessary care and support to manage your eye health and maintain your vision. To find an eye doctor near you, you can search online for "eye doctor for pink eye near me" or "optometrist for pink eye near me", ask for recommendations from friends or family, or consult with your primary care doctor for a referral.

Do you need to visit the ER or Urgent care if you have pink eye?
Eye Emergencies optometry and eye care
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Common Questions

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, typically presents with redness, itchiness, and a watery or mucous discharge. However, some signs indicate a more serious condition that requires attention from an eye doctor. These signs include intense pain, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, intense redness, and symptoms that don't improve or worsen after 48 hours. Furthermore, if you experience fever, chills, or face swelling, these could be indications of a more significant issue. In such cases, it's crucial to consider it as an eye emergency and seek professional care promptly.
While pink eye can often be mild, certain forms, especially bacterial or viral conjunctivitis, can become severe if not treated. It's especially urgent if you have a compromised immune system, or if the symptoms are accompanied by the aforementioned severe signs. If there's any doubt about the severity or type of pink eye you have, it's always a good idea to see an optometrist to get a clear diagnosis and avoid potential complications.
It's not advisable to leave pink eye untreated, especially if the cause is bacterial or viral. Without appropriate medical intervention, the condition can worsen or spread to others. Additionally, other eye conditions can mimic the symptoms of pink eye, so self-diagnosis can be misleading. An optometrist can provide a precise diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment. Even if the pink eye is due to a non-contagious cause, proper care can provide relief from symptoms and prevent complications.
Yes, pink eye often requires medical treatment. Depending on its cause—whether viral, bacterial, allergic, or irritant—the treatment can vary. Bacterial conjunctivitis, for instance, typically needs antibiotic eye drops or ointments prescribed by an eye doctor. Viral conjunctivitis doesn't respond to antibiotics but may benefit from antiviral treatments in severe cases. Allergic conjunctivitis might be treated with antihistamines or anti-inflammatory eye drops.
Eye Emergency?  When should you seek medical attention for pink eye?
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Schedule an Emergency Eye Exam for Pink Eye

If you are experiencing symptoms of pink eye, it is always ideal to have it seen by an optometrist and not wait to seek medical attention. A comprehensive eye exam from your optometrist can help diagnose the cause of your pink eye and provide the proper treatment to help you feel better and get back to your normal routine.

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