Ophthalmologic emergencies



The red eye accompanied by pain and/or a loss of visual acuity is an emergency situation.

  • There must be a difference between real pain and the feeling of sand in the eyes or burns.

The painless red eye and without the increase of visual acuity impresses, but is not a critical situation for an adult.

  • A redness in masse and homogeneous. Often provoked by a capillary fragility associated with a violent effort (constipation, birth, violent fit of coughing) which leads to the accession of the venous pressure. The subconjunctival haemorrhage can also be due from some vascular disorders; in this case, it’s recommended to address the generalist doctor. 

The painful red eye

  • The redness is the diffuse accompanied with a feeling of sand in the eyes. The conjunctivitis can be bacteriological (purulent and abundant secretions) or virale (slightly abundant secretions, skin rashes and high risk of transmission). A slight decrease in visual acuity and/or a discomfort to light are considered as factors of high gravity.
  • The allergic conjunctivitis (severe skin rashes, few secretions) with a brutal evolution and most of the time chronic or seasonal is rather voided of gravity.
  • The redness is intense and more concentrated around the cornea and can lose the transparency. The eye can present an abnormal hardness, and the eyeball can remain blocked in dilated position. Glaucoma crisis can bring to a decrease of visual acuity, a strong ocular pain, a severe headache.
  • The pain is less of mark than in the case of glaucoma and the eyeball can be contracted. The uveitis can lead to a decrease of visual acuity.
  • The pain is located in the eye (foreign object sensation). Keratitis can lead to a slightly decrease of visual acuity and/or a grown of light sensitivity.

The decrease of visual acuity and/or the affectation of the visual field.

  • A brutal decrease of visual acuity, a diminution of the visual field, the apparition of light flashes, the vision of one fixed black patch or distorted vision can be reasons for an ophthalmic emergency consultation.
  • It may be about the apparition of a veil or flash, or fly flies, retinal detachment or vitreous body detachment.
  • The apparition of a central black patch may stay at the base of a macular hole or AMD.
  • A deformed vision can affix the apparition of AMD, of one membrane.

The transitory decrease of visual acuity or headaches.These symptoms, when appear isolated, are rarely reasons for an ophthalmic emergency consultation.

  • A transient decrease of visual acuity or headaches can require to wear glasses.

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