I woke up with a very red and swollen eye, what should I do?

By Dr. Stephen Taylor, Optometrist

Question: I woke up with a very red and swollen eye. It feels like something is in it and is causing me great discomfort. Is it better for me to go to the emergency room or call my Optometrist?

Answer: Like any other injury, sudden eye issues are unfortunately bound to happen sometimes. The first step to take would be contacting your Optometrist’s office and describing your symptoms. From there, they will determine what the best course of action is for you, whether it is coming in for an emergency appointment, a phone consultation, or heading to the hospital’s emergency room. If you do not have an Optometrist, call a nearby clinic anyway and they may be able to assist you immediately or point you in the right direction of care. Seeking help from your general practitioner or a walk-in clinic are options as well. Please have as much information ready as possible (such as symptoms, location, onset, duration, and severity) to provide, as the more they know the better they will be able to help. If you have the ability, being able to send a picture of your eye to your clinic is also helpful.

While waiting for directions or assistance, try to avoid further irritating the area. Often keeping the eye closed or sitting in a dark room can help while waiting. Check with a medical professional before using any medicated eye drops (prescription or over the counter), as some may make the condition worse.