You only get one pair of eyes meant to last a lifetime. That’s why it’s it important to take care of one of your most precious assets: your vision. Often, we take our vision for granted until a problem occurs.
There are times, however, when it’s essential to seek out expert eye care. If you’ve noticed any of the following signs and symptoms, then it’s time to visit an eye doctor.
1. Vision changes
Vision changes can happen quickly or slowly over time. Maybe you’ve noticed that it’s getting harder to read the morning newspaper than it used to be. Or you might have difficulties seeing objects in your peripheral vision.
If you have cloudy vision, see flashes of light, or floating squiggly lines also known as floaters, then it’s time to see the doctor.
2. Unusual eye discharge
It’s normal to wake up and have some clear eye discharge. Yet, excessively runny eyes can be symptomatic of a contagious bacterial condition known as conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis or “pink eye” can leave you with crusty, itchy eyes.
Seek medical assistance if you see thick yellow or green colored pus, thick crusty eye discharge, and/or have a fever. Colored eye discharge and an elevated body temperature are usually signs of an infection.
3. Pain and pressure
Sudden onset eye pain and pressure is not normal. It’s possible the sensation excessive pressure in the eyes can lead to glaucoma, a condition that damages the optic nerve.
Eye strain, neck pain, and headaches are all caused by inadequate glasses or contact lens prescriptions. That’s why it’s essential to see an eye doctor regularly to make sure your vision hasn’t changed. If you don’t already wear vision corrective lenses and you experience these problems, it’s time to get your eyesight tested.
4. Foreign objects in the eye
Minor debris like eyelashes and dust can be removed with at home eye rinses. Major objects like metal shards, large grains of sand, and small pieces of wood require professional removal.
For penetrating wounds or objects that you can’t get out of your eye on your own, you must go to the Emergency Room or an urgent care facility.
5. Eye injuries
Scratches on the surface of the eye (the cornea) and chemical burns can cause long term and permanent eye damage, if not treated immediately. Get to the ER right away if you notice severe bruising, bleeding in the eye, swelling, or broken bones around the eye. You may also need to see an eye specialist for treatment.
6. Excessively dry eyes
Our tears lubricate, clean, and protect our eyes. Chronic irritated, dry eyes occur when your tear ducts produce an insufficient amount of tears or are blocked. Scratchy, burning dry eyes not only feel uncomfortable; untreated dry eyes can lead to corneal ulcers.
7. Missed eye care appointments
It’s easy to put off seeing an eye doctor. But, seeing an eye care specialist once a year can help detect subtle changes in your eye health. Some people have special eye care needs. You may need to see an eye doctor more frequently if you:
- Are over age 50
- Are pregnant
- Are diabetic
- Have a family history of eye disorders
- Have had previous eye conditions