We often get calls during office hours and afterwards with questions about eye problems. Eyes are a mystery to many and it’s hard to know what is an emergency and what can wait. Here’s some common complaints we hear, whether they need immediate attention and how to help treat the condition before you can get into our office.

Sudden flashes of light

Sudden flashes of light out of only ONE eye could indicate a vitreous or retinal detachment and need seen as soon as possible. Please call our office immediately and follow the instructions for an emergency eye issue.

Sudden flashes of light out of BOTH eyes is a brain issue and not an eye issue. It could be an ocular migraine where the lights will typically last between 5-20 minutes. An appointment is recommended within a week of the first time you notice this symptom. We’ll rule out all causes that could be from your eye and likely refer you to your family doctor for further testing.

New floaters

Floaters are dots and squiggly lines that we all see at some point in life. If you notice a big burst of them all at once, we’d recommend an appointment in the next few days. If you notice a big curtain of floaters that you can’t see through, please call the office for a same day appointment.

Eye Injury

An injury to your eye requires a same day appointment. Please call our office and we’ll work you into the schedule. If it’s a chemical burn, flush with water or saline as soon as possible and immediately call our office. Do not use Visine, Clear Eyes or a redness relieving drop.


A stye is a sterile infection of the oil glands that line our eyelids. They are not contagious but can be very uncomfortable. The moment you feel a hard spot along your eyelid that is tender when you touch it, apply heat for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off. Heat is best applied with a warm compress that you can heat in the microwave. They are sold in our office or you can buy one at your local pharmacy. A warm washcloth does not work for treatment. It must be a compress that can be heated and retain heat.  Do not use stye ointment, Visine, Clear Eyes or a redness relieving drop.  The faster you get heat applied to the area, the faster it will heal and the smaller chance that you will need any further treatment. If you don’t see any improvement by the next day, please call our office for a same day appointment.

We hope this makes it easier to know if what you’re dealing with is an emergency and what to do to help solve the problem prior to coming to our office.