ANDREW GASSON CONTACT LENSES
A LONDON SPECIALIST CONTACT LENS PRACTICE SINCE 1972
CONTACT LENSES - WHAT DO IN AN EMERGENCY
[ Trapped Lens ] [ Haemorrhage ] [ Infection ] [ Foreign Body ] [ Stinging ] [ Vision ]
[ Where to go ]
Is it really an emergency?
Is it a lens problem
or an eye problem? Remove the lens
to find out if the problems persists.
You won't lose
anything by pausing for 30 seconds.
General discomfort is not usually an emergency and might be caused by a damaged or contaminated lens, changing to a new solution, the side effects of medication, sinus trouble or hay fever. Most serious problems will result in a more acute red eye.
More information on eye emergencies at www.eyecasualty.co.uk
two most common 'non-emergencies' are:
lens, or part of a lens, trapped under the top lid
will not be stuck there forever; it can't get into the back of your head; it
is not dangerous; and will often re-appear on its own.
Try tilting your head back, feeling
through the top lid and pushing towards the outer corner of the eye where you
may be able to see the lens. Alternatively, try washing it out using an
eye bath, preferably filled with saline solution. If this doesn't
and we will try to fit you in for an appointment straight away or 'talk you
down'. If it happens at night and
there is no discomfort, it can nearly always wait till the morning.
If it is painful, then use one of the emergency addresses at the end.
sure the lens you are trying to remove hasn't come out of the eye - if the
vision is normal, it is still there on the cornea. Trying to remove a
non-existent contact lens will cause far more discomfort!
Be sure the lens you are trying to remove hasn't come out of the eye - if the vision is normal, it is still there on the cornea. Trying to remove a non-existent contact lens will cause far more discomfort!
haemorrhage on t he white of the
he white of the eye
is the worst looking but least serious eye problem to have.
It is the eye equivalent of a nose bleed but because the blood is trapped
it spreads around the white of the eye and may take a few days to resolve.
These haemorrhages may be the result of bruising the eye during the night
or from lens handling.
Sometimes they occur spontaneously and are often worse if you are taking
aspirin or other anti-coagulent medication.
- if you are sure this is the problem, there is no pain and the vision is
completely normal. There is no
actual treatment but if in doubt get it checked either by us or by someone
There is some risk, however small, in most human activities and contact lens wearing is no exception. There are several possible causes of emergency, some of which are potentially much more serious than others.
If an eye is
acutely painful, comparable to toothache, it is quite probably something more
serious than just conjunctivitis. It
is, possibly, a corneal infection - especially if there are other symptoms such
as redness, swelling, sensitivity to light and persistent watering.
The following is particularly important if you wear lenses overnight
for extended wear.
The lens should be removed and help sought without delay.
Never go to bed with a really red or painful eye.
Waiting for an appointment may waste valuable time.
You should be seen by an ophthalmologist, for example at the casualty department of a hospital. He (or she) is in the best position to assess the gravity or otherwise of the condition and if necessary to begin the proper treatment, which is not that usually given for a simple problem like conjunctivitis. It is a good thing to know where such help is available before it is needed so be aware of the location of your nearest eye hospital.
If it is a corneal infection, the longer you delay, the more chance there is of causing a long term visual problem. There are no marks for heroics if it hurts!
is the most common cause of sudden, sharp discomfort, particularly amongst hard
lens wearers. It is usually caused
by a piece of dust or grit behind the lens.
nothing. The foreign body is nearly
always washed away by the tears and the discomfort should disappear.
It may leave a very superficial scratch which will heal quite rapidly and
need no treatment.
the eye remains painful, remove, clean and re-insert the lens.
If it is still painful, a foreign body may be trapped on the surface of
the eye or it may have created a much deeper scratch or abrasion which requires
some minor first aid. Remove the
lens, telephone us or use one of the emergency addresses at the end.
stinging or burning
burning or a similar adverse reaction to solutions is one of the most common
causes of red and sore eyes. Have you put
the cleaning solution instead of the wetting solution in your eyes? Have
you changed anything in your normal routine or had to buy an unfamiliar brand
and not looked at the instructions? Also
think whether you might have had a trace on your hands of anything chemical or
something used in food preparation such as pepper or chilies.
the lenses and rinse the eyes extremely thoroughly.
Ideally, use one of the proprietary 0.9% saline solutions which will be
sterile and neutral. Failing this,
simply use large quantities of tap water. The
most painful reactions occur with the hydrogen peroxide preparations which have
not been neutralized properly. Apart
from copious rinsing, try comfort or rewetting drops as their smoother more
viscous qualities should make the eyes more comfortable.
It also helps to keep the eye closed.
If the symptoms persist you should seek medical help.
it is important to decide if it is the contact lens or the eye.
Check the obvious such as whether the lenses are in the correct eye or you
haven't used an old lens by mistake. What
happens if you put on spectacles? Migraine
sufferers often have visual disturbances ranging from flashes of light to a
temporary but complete loss of vision. Computer
use sometimes produces similar effects.
you have confirmed a sudden loss of vision and that it is not a contact lens
problem, then you should have a proper diagnosis made as a matter of urgency.
The most common symptoms are 'flashes and floaters' (the flashes are
less zig-zag in appearance than with migraine).
These could be either a disturbance in the gel within the eye (more
common and not necessarily serious) or a tear in the retina - much more
serious and must be seen as a matter of urgency.
We can usually arrange an immediate referral to an ophthalmologist or
this could be made by your general practitioner.
If it is out of hours, use the emergency addresses.
If you are very short-sighted, stress this plus the nature of your
[There is a short explanation on this
website and a longer one here.]
[There is a short explanation on this website and a longer one here.]
In central London a 24 hour casualty service is available from the following NHS hospitals:
London EC1V 2PD, (near Old Street)
Tel: 020 7253 3411
Marylebone Road (Near the flyover)
London NW1 SYE
Tel: 020 7402 4211
Emergency treatment is available from the following PRIVATE clinics.
Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth: 60 Grove End Road, St. John's Wood, London NW8 9NH, Tel: 020 7806 4000
Clementine Churchill Hospital: Sudbury Hill, Harrow, Middlesex,
HA1 3RX, Tel. 020 8872 3872
Many other local hospitals, including the following, also have excellent day time emergency eye clinics:
St Thomas's Hospital: Accident and emergency, Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7EH, Tel: 020 7188 7188
Charing Cross Hospital: Fulham Palace Road, London W6 8RF, Tel: (020) 8846 1955
Kingston Hospital: Galsworthy Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT2 7QB, Tel. 020 8546 7711
The Oxford Eye Hospital: Headley Way, Headington, Oxford, OX3 9DU, Tel: 01865 234163
Doncaster Royal Infirmary: Armthorpe Road, South Yorkshire, DN2 5LT, Tel: 01302 366666
More information on eye emergencies at www.eyecasualty.co.uk
If you know of other emergency clinics around the country which could be included, private or health service, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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