Eye Emergencies

If you have an eye emergency during our regular office hours, please feel free to call us (303-449-0857). Let us know what the emergency is and we will do our best to see you promptly. We can assess your condition, and either start treatment, or make the necessary prompt referral.


  or call Boulder Eye Surgeons (303-444-3000) or Omni Eye Specialists (303-377-2020)

Eye emergencies include:
  • Chemical exposure
  • Eye abrasions / scratches
  • Eyelid cuts
  • Foreign body in the eye
  • Object stuck in the eye
  • Burns
  • Cuts and blows to the eye.

It is important to get medical attention for all eye problems. Since the eye is easily damaged, a delay in getting medical attention can cause permanent eye damage and loss of sight. If you have a critical injury to the eye or a sudden loss of vision, proceed directly to your nearest hospital emergency room.

Seek medical attention immediately if you, or a family member, has any of these symptoms:
  • Loss of vision
  • Pain or redness in the eye
  • Cut or torn eyelid
  • Scratched eye
  • Abnormal pupil size or shape
  • Nausea accompanying eye pain
  • Double vision
  • Sudden onset of “floaters,” or seeing spots in your vision
  • Seeing flashes of light
  • Seeing a “curtain” over any portion of your vision, including your peripheral vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Stinging and burning
  • Blood in the white of the eye.
  • Something embedded in the eye.
  • Something under the eyelid that cannot be removed.
  • There appears to be any visible scratch, cut or penetration of your eyeball
  • Any chemical gets in your eye
  • Lack of movement in one or both eyes.
  • Protruding eye.
What to do:

In the case of eye injuries, these simple tasks can help save vision:

  • Direct blow to the eye – Rest a protective shield, such as a Styrofoam cup, on the bone surrounding the eye. Take care not to add pressure to the eye.
  • Black eye – Apply an ice pack or cold cloth over the eye.
  • Foreign object in the eye – Most small particles can be flushed out with eye wash saline solution, available over the counter. If saline solution is not available, use clean fresh water.
  • Chemical burn – Rinse the eye with fresh water for at least 15 minutes. Hold your head under running water (a shower is good) or use a clean container to pour water into the eye. Roll your eye to ensure the water reaches all areas that may have come in contact with the chemical. DO NOT use an eyecup.
  • Metal shavings in the eye – Do not attempt to remove metal by rinsing, using a magnet or pushing on the eye. Cover the eye and immediately seek medical assistance.
  • Cuts and Punctures of the Eye or Eyelid– Cover the eye with a rigid shield without applying pressure. The bottom half of a paper cup can be used. DO NOT wash out the eye with water or any other liquid. DO NOT try to remove an object that is stuck in the eye.
  • & see a doctor at once
What NOT to do:
  • DO NOT press on an injured eye or allow the victim to rub the eye(s)
  • DO NOT attempt to remove a foreign body that is resting on the cornea (the clear surface of the eye through which we see) or that appears to be embedded in any part of the eye—get medical help
  • DO NOT use dry cotton (including cotton swabs) or sharp instruments (such as tweezers) on the eye
  • DO NOT attempt to remove an embedded object
  • DO NOT let a burn become contaminated. Avoid putting oils or creams on a burn until a doctor has treated it and given you instructions.
Be Prepared!
  • Wear eye protection for all hazardous activities and sports–at school, home, and on the job. Wear protective eyewear when working with chemicals.
  • Keep sharp objects out of the hands of children. Supervise children carefully.
  • Stock a first aid kit with a rigid eye shield and commercial eyewash before an eye injury happens.
  • DO NOT assume that any eye injury is harmless. When in doubt, see a doctor immediately.

The information provided here should not be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.