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A Visit to the Emergency Room or Your Optometrist?

Eye Care Emergencies To Take Directly to the Optometry Office ASAP

When a health crisis occurs, it is common to consider a visit to the nearest hospital emergency room for care. However, when the emergency is related to your eyes, consider a trip to your optometrist’s office as the first stop.

Recent research has shown that treating eye emergencies at eye doctors’ offices can potentially divert more than 1 million patients away from ERs each year. While doing so eases the burden on hospitals and their staff and helps them conserve resources, it also ensures that you get the most prompt treatment and care.

New or existing patient? We are here to help! Here are some of the several circumstances where you can keep eye emergencies out of hospital emergency rooms.

Foreign Body Removal

With fallen leaves blowing in the wind and chopped wood burning in backyard bonfire pits, autumn carries with it several instances that a foreign body can end up embedded in an eye.

The sharp pain, watery eyes and frightening blurred vision from a foreign body can coax a run to the bathroom for a quick self-removal attempt or an anxious run to the nearest emergency room. Try and keep this in mind: the eye is a fragile organ. Any self-pursuits of removal or a long wait in an ER can lead to an unfavorable outcome.

Take a deep breath, give us a quick call, and let our team know you are on your way so we can prepare to address your needs right upon your arrival!

Lost/Broken Contacts

After wearing contacts for years, they no longer feel like foreign objects until… they tear or get lost in the eyelid. Chances are you did not realize the contact was torn until it was in your eye. Torn lenses are less likely to stay centered and the jagged edge can scratch the front surface of your eye.

During allergy seasons, your eyes can get extremely itchy. Rubbing your eye can cause contacts to fold, dislodge from the cornea and get stuck under your upper eyelid.

Don’t panic! You can remove ripped contact lenses following your usual process. Even lost, folded lenses can often be found by adding contact lens solution to your eye, closing your eye, and massaging your eyelid until the lens repositions itself.

If these attempts fail or are successful but followed by discomfort, call or visit your eye doctor for assistance.

Chemical Flushing

Some chemicals are more toxic than others, but all chemicals should be considered dangerous if they encounter your eye. Certain chemicals can cause damage to the cornea and lead to vision loss.

Cleaning your bathroom mirrors, providing maintenance to your vehicle, or starting a manicure with nail polish remover? These are common situations where an acid can accidentally make its way into your eye, causing them to sting and burn.

If you are wearing contacts, remove them immediately. Preferably flush your eyes with saline if you have it on hand or with room temperature water. Seek urgent medical care from your trusted O.D.

Red & Burning Eyes

While chemical exposure can lead to red and burning eyes, this eye experience can be linked to several other serious issues. Bacteria, mites, allergens, skin diseases and autoimmune diseases can lead to similar reactions. You may not know you have any of these until you are examined by an optometrist.

Don’t try to give red and burning eyes time to fall by the wayside. Proper diagnosis by your O.D. is essential to determine the best treatment.

Discharge From the Eye

Pink eye is a misguided diagnosis. It is often confused with other conjunctivitis conditions. If taken directly to an emergency room, patients are usually prescribed a simple antibiotic to cure what is easily assumed based on the symptoms.

Correct diagnosis of red eyes accompanied by discharge are best evaluated by an eye doctor as quickly as possible since some of the causes can be sight-threatening.

Flashes and Floaters

You may consider floating spots and flashing lights a symptom of constantly staring at a computer screen or having a painful migraine. While these reasons can be valid, flashes and floaters must be addressed quickly as they could be an indication of a retinal defect such as retinal detachment, or a stroke. These can cause permanent vision loss if left untreated.

Step away from the computer screen, give us a call and explain what is obstructing your vision. This will help us determine if an immediate evaluation by one of our trusted vision-care specialists should be the next move on your to-do list.

Sudden Vision Changes

Sitting in the car and notice you can’t see out of one eye? Or does your vision seem much worse than it was yesterday while you’re reading your newest novel? These sudden vision changes can be ominous signs. The most likely reasons are macular degeneration, elevated eye pressure, or optic nerve disease.

If you or a loved one experiences sudden vision changes, call our Houston office at 281-480-1002. A prompt diagnosis by your optometrist is essential to restore vision to normal.

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These are just some examples of situations that are best treated by your trusted O.D. rather than an ER physician. Take anything involving your eye health into consideration and do not hesitate to contact us for prompt and precise eye care.  

Ask Our Houston Eye Doctors About Scleral Lenses

Scleral lenses are a specialized contact lenses that make contact lens use possible for many people for the first time – and they have advantages for normal contact lens wearers as well.

A scleral lens is a larger lens that rests on the sclera or white of the eye, rather than the colored portion (or iris). The lens has many advantages which can make contact lens wear an option for those who have previously been told otherwise.

The lens, which covers a larger area than a normal contact lens, creates a pocket filled with artificial tears, fitting securely around the eye. Due to their size, scleral lenses provide sharper vision, greater durability, easier handling and a lower risk for complications.

We have a unique library of scleral contact lens solutions for you.

Are you one of the 5 patient types that would likely benefit from a scleral lens?

Candidates Include Patients with:

  1. Allergies
  2. High or complicated prescriptions that have been told they can’t wear contact lenses.
  3. Unsuccessful history with other lenses either due to poor comfort or poor vision.
  4. Keratoconus or any type of corneal degeneration or dystrophy, transplants, scarring or trauma or post-LASIK complications.
  5. Dry eyes or high sensitivity to light or Steve Johnson Syndrome.

What are the 5 main benefits of a scleral lens vs. a regular lens?

  1. Easier to insert and remove.
  2. Improved, consistent quality of vision all day long.
  3. Better comfort. Other lenses may dry out and get uncomfortable.
  4. Longer lasting. With proper maintenance, they can last over a year.

What are three key differences in the scleral lens technology?

  1. The lens doesn’t touch the cornea but rests on the sclera or the white part of the eye to increase comfort.
  2. Microscopic adjustments to the lenses can be made with new advanced manufacturing technology to customize the fit of each lens to each patient’s unique needs.
  3. Can add highly customized, unique prescriptions onto each lens to provide even better vision.

Special Instances That Can Benefit from Scleral Lenses


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Legal Blindness:
It is not uncommon for someone who is legally blind from a corneal irregularity to regain great vision. This lens design provides a protective cushion of saline that can reduce pain and photosensitivity caused by other lens designs.
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Sports:
Scleral lenses are great for athletes who require excellent acuity and a stable lens fit while they are physically active.

They are also useful in situations where other contact lens types are not effective or appropriate, including dusty environments and contact sports.

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Protective & Therapeutic:
Scleral lenses can provide hydration to the cornea in severe cases of dry eye and ocular pemphigoid.
They can also help in keeping the eye hydrated in conditions where the eyelids do not close properly such as facial nerve palsy, trauma, or ptosis.

Custom Fit
We customize the lenses to the exact specifications of each individual wearer.

The entire process may take several visits in order to optimize the design and ensure the process of application and removal is comfortable and efficient. For these reasons professional fees associated with fitting sclera lenses and lens replacement costs are higher than other contact lenses. We are happy to discuss your specific costs based on your individual needs.

Accepting New Patients!

Dr. Hannah Burfield recently joined Space Center Eye Associates, with clinical experience in pre/post operative surgical care, pediatrics, low vision, and primary eye care. She has extensive training in managing conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease, and more.  Learn more about Dr. Burfield and request an appointment with her today!