Blog Hero

6 Signs of an Eye Care Emergency

Book Appointment
An optometrist examining her patient's eye for an eye care emergency.

Many people assume the eye doctor’s office is just a place for eye exams and glasses, but visiting your optometrist is crucial to help protect your vision. Eye emergencies can place your vision at risk, so it’s important to know the signs of an eye emergency that require immediate attention from a professional.

There are many signs of a potential eye emergency, whether it’s red eyes, eye pain, or sudden loss of vision. Watching for these symptoms can help you know when to visit your eye doctor for emergency care

What is an Eye Emergency? 

An eye emergency is a situation where your eye health and vision are at risk. These emergencies can happen suddenly, making visiting your eye doctor as soon as possible essential to protect your sight.

Eye emergencies can be anything from a cut or scratch to eye disease. Some common emergencies include: 

  • Cuts
  • Scratches
  • Blunt injuries
  • Chemical exposure
Young woman in distress and experiencing eye pain after long exposure to a computer screen.

6 Signs of an Eye Emergency

Many patients assume you’ll know an eye emergency when you see it, but sometimes the signs can be harder to distinguish.

6 signs of an eye emergency include: 

  • Eye pain
  • Red eyes
  • Bleeding
  • Burning eyes
  • Sudden flashes or floaters
  • Sudden vision loss

Eye Pain

Eye pain is always a reason to see your doctor—it’s the body’s way of saying you’re experiencing a problem. You might experience pain on the surface of your eye, or it might feel like it comes from deeper inside. 

There are many possible causes of eye pain, including: 

  • Pink eye
  • Corneal abrasion
  • Eye injury
  • Glaucoma
  • Foreign object in the eye

You should visit your optometrist for emergency treatment if you experience severe eye pain, eye pain caused by an injury, or sudden changes to your vision. 

Red Eyes

Red eyes can mean many different things, from irritation to a possible infection. People brush eye redness aside like it’s not a big deal, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Some possible causes of red eyes include: 

  • Eye injury
  • Pink eye
  • Allergies
  • Dry eyes
  • Hemorrhage
  • Contact lens overuse
  • Glaucoma
  • Corneal ulcer

If you’re worried about red eyes but aren’t sure you need to see your optometrist, keep an eye on your symptoms. You should visit your doctor if your redness lasts longer than a week, your vision changes, you experience pain, or your eyes become light-sensitive. 

In some cases, red eyes mean you need to visit your eye doctor immediately. Seek emergency care if you have red eyes in these situations: 

  • You have a headache and blurry vision 
  • You see white rings or halos around lights
  • You experience trauma or injury around the eye
  • You experience nausea or vomiting 


Unless it’s a paper cut, blood is almost always concerning. Visiting your eye doctor is important if there’s bleeding in or around your eyes. You may be experiencing one of many possible issues. 

Eye bleeding can have several causes, including: 

  • Eye injury
  • Medication use
  • Medical conditions
  • Pink eye
  • Eye infection

You may not think a broken blood vessel is concerning, but ensure you visit your eye doctor if you experience pain, swelling, redness, pressure, blurry vision, or changes to your vision. 

Burning Eyes

Burning eyes can sometimes mean your eyes feel dry after a long day. In others, you may have an infection or injury. 

Burning eyes can be a sign of: 

  • Infection
  • A foreign object in the eye
  • Dry eyes
  • Injury

Sudden Flashes or Floaters

Flashes (flashes of light in your vision) and floaters (dots, specks, or cobweb-like clumps in your visual field) are normal in small amounts. You may be having an emergency if you suddenly develop them or experience an increase. 

Flashes and floaters can indicate retinal detachment, leading to severe vision loss if left untreated. In general, visit your optometrist right away if you: 

  • Notice many new floaters
  • See a shadow overtaking your side vision
  • It looks like a gray curtain is covering your vision
  • You experience many flashes

Sudden Vision Loss

Sudden vision loss is always concerning and should never be ignored. You should visit your eye doctor immediately if you experience vision loss—it can help save your sight. 

Take Care of Your Vision

Your vision is important, and many people take it for granted. Eye emergencies can happen at any moment, so it’s essential you know what to do. Your eye doctor is here to help protect your eye health and vision, no matter the issue. 

Visit us at Restore Vision Center if you experience an eye emergency.

Written by Tracy Eickhoff

Dr. Tracy Eickhoff grew up in Friendswood, Texas and graduated from Friendswood High School. She went on to attend Texas A&M University and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biomedical Science in 2004. From there she attended the University of Houston College Of Optometry where she received her Doctor of Optometry Degree in 2008. She is a member of The American Optometric Association, The Texas Optometric Association, and The Gold Key International Optometric Honor Society, The Ocular Nutrition Society, and has served as Adjunct Clinical Faculty at The University of Houston College of Optometry.

More Articles By Tracy Eickhoff
instagram facebook facebook2 pinterest twitter google-plus google linkedin2 yelp youtube phone location calendar share2 link star-full star star-half chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down chevron-up envelope fax