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Eye Emergency Q&A with Dr. John Stewart

Q: What is an eye infection?
Dr. Stewart: Your eyes can get infections from bacteria, fungi, or viruses. Eye infections can occur in different parts of the eye and can affect just one eye or both. Two common eye infections are conjunctivitis (also known as pink eye) and lid styes which are swollen lid bumps that can also be painful. Common signs of an eye infection are pain, itching, or a sensation of a foreign body in the eye, photosensitivity, redness or small red lines in the white of the eye, discharge of yellow pus that may be crusty upon awaking, and tears.

Q: What should I do if I spill chemicals in my eyes?
Dr. Stewart: You should wash your hands thoroughly to make sure that no chemical is still on them. Remove the contact lens if you are wearing them. With your eyes wide open, flush with cool tap water for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat the eye flush if necessary and seek medical attention right away.

Q: What should I do if I get sand, metal or wood in my eyes?
Dr. Stewart: If you have an abrasion to your eye from a foreign object such as sand, metal or wood, you should seek and Eye Doctor right away to determine the right course of treatment. Sometimes a foreign object only abrades the eye and causes a superficial injury, which is managed easily with an Eye Doctor. When a foreign object hits the eye at a high speed it can penetrate and the eye and cause serious injury. You should seek emergency Eye Care attention right away. There is one thing to point out here. The longer a patient waits to be seen by an Eye Doctor, the more serious the trauma can become.

Q: I am seeing spots or floating colors suddenly. What does it mean and what should I do?
Dr. Stewart: A new floater in your vision is a cause for concern. First, you should determine which eye has the floater. You can cover one eye and then cover the other eye to know which eye has the floater. The next thing you will want to do is to describe the floater. What does the floater look like? Does it look like a cobweb, or like a worm, or like gnats? Is it a floater that you always had, but recently has changed in its appearance? Are there flashes of light associated with it? In which case you should seek an Eye Doctor right away to find out if this is vision threatening.

Q: Are eye infections dangerous?
Dr. Stewart: An eye infection which we commonly call pink eye can be caused by a bacteria, a virus, or a fungus. Of these three different causes, there are different treatments. All parts of the eye are susceptible to infection. Eye infections can affect one or both eyes and can occur in people of all ages. Symptoms can include irritation, redness, discharge, a reduced vision. Not all eye infections are dangerous. however, if you believe you have an eye infection, you should seek the advice of an eye care professional.

Q: Can my child go to school with an eye infection?
Dr. Stewart: Pink eye, or conjunctivitis is the most common eye infection affecting children. You may notice redness, itching, discharge, an crusty eyes in the morning. Until this is treated, the pink eye can be contagious. Avoid sharing wash clothes, bath towels, and pillow cases. If this is a problem, consult with your Eye Doctor.

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