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Eye Emergencies (Pink/Red Eyes)

Eye Emergencies and Urgent Care In Palo Alto CA

We are always willing to help, should you ever experience an eye emergency. Our office in Palo Alto provides emergency services for eye infections, eye injuries and other eye urgencies.  State of the art equipment allows us to examine the front surface of the eye and also digitally scan inside the eye for infection or damage We accommodate many eye emergencies such as:

      • Sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes
      • Flashes of light in the vision
      • “Floaters” in the vision
      • Eye infections
      • Foreign materials stuck in the eyes
      • Eye trauma
      • Scratched eyes
      • Lost or broken contact lenses or eyeglasses
      • Red or painful eyes
      • Dislodged contact lenses
      • Uncomfortable, itchy, or irritated eyes

Studies have shown that an overwhelming number of emergency room visits could have been treated by an optometrist. These ranged from foreign bodies to severe eye allergies to eye infections as the most common reasons for emergency room visits. It is not always necessary to go to an emergency room for eye emergencies. Optometrists are equipped to treat the majority of eye emergencies.

We understand the importance of eye care when you encounter symptoms such as those listed above. These are signs that an immediate evaluation or consultation is necessary - please call us to set one up if you are experiencing an eye emergency of any kind.

Foreign Body Removal( Something stuck in your eye) 

A foreign body is something such as an eyelash, sawdust, sand, or dirt can that gets into the eyes. The main symptom is irritation or pain. Depending on what it is and how the injury happened, the foreign body may pierce the eye and cause serious injury or it may simply go away with no long-term problem.

The foreign object may set off an inflammatory cascade, resulting in dilation of the surrounding vessels and subsequent edema of the lids, conjunctiva, and cornea. If not removed, a foreign body can cause infection.

If anything is stuck in your eye for more than a period of a couple of hours, you must immediately cease all attempts to remove it yourself. Keep in mind that the eyes are an extremely delicate organ and any attempts to try anything extra ordinary with them can only have negative and adverse results. If the foreign body you are talking about is not bothering you too much, then you are advised to visit an eye doctor to take care of it. If not you may need to call to emergency service of your region.

If there is a foreign body in your eye, such as a piece of grit, your Palo Alto eye doctor may try and remove it. They will put anaesthetic eye drops in your eye first, in order to numb it and prevent any pain.

If the foreign body is easy to get to, it may be possible to remove it by simply rinsing your eye with water, or by wiping it away with a cotton wool bud or triangle of card. However, if this is unsuccessful, your eye doctor may try and remove the foreign body by lifting it out with the tip of a small metal instrument.

The foreign body could be stuck underneath your upper eyelid, especially if you can feel something there, or you have scratches or grazes (abrasions) on the top half of the transparent outer layer of your eye (cornea). If this is the case, it may be necessary to gently turn your eyelid inside out in order to remove the foreign body.

Once the anaesthetic eye drops have worn off, your eye may feel a bit uncomfortable until your abrasion heals.

Whatever is happening with your eyes or if you suffer or even suspect that a foreign body has penetrated the outer eye layer better go without delay to the nearest treatment center. Doing nothing can lead to loss of vision, premature cataracts and damage to the retina so do not take any chances, delay is dangerous.

Red, Pink or Sore Eyes?

We are ready to look after ALL of your eye care needs in one location. In addition to the services you already rely on us for such as routine eye exams at our office in Palo Alto, contact lenses. designer frames and eyeglasses - think of your Optometrist first for:

        • sore, red, or itchy eyes
        • treatment of "pink eye" and other bacterial infections
        • removal of foreign bodies from the eye (such as wood or metal)
        • treatment of eye allergies or burns
        • emergency eye care

This is convenient and cost effective for your whole family and you can be sure you are receiving the attention of an eye care specialist.

What is Pink Eye?

Also known as conjunctivitis, Pink Eye is a very common eye condition in which the normally clear mucus membrane that lines the eyelid and eye surface, known as the conjunctiva, becomes swollen and red or pinkish in color.

Most cases of pink eye are caused by viral or bacterial infections, dry eyes from lack of tears or exposure to the elements, chemicals or smoke, or allergies.

Pink eye caused by viruses or bacteria is highly contagious, and keeping it from spreading is extremely important. This is especially true since there is usually no medical treatment, and waiting it out is the only way to be rid of it. Viral and bacterial pink eye is the leading type and is most often spread through poor hand washing or sharing an object like a washcloth or towel with someone that has pink eye.

With viral and bacterial pink eye, one should expect swelling and itching of the eyelids, watery eyes and clear or slightly thick drainage. This drainage may also cause the eyelids to stick together when a person first wakes up in the morning or after a nap.

This type of pink eye usually runs its course over 5 to 7 days, but has been known to sometimes last as much as 3 weeks and may become ongoing or chronic. A person is usually able to return to work or school as symptoms begin to fade. Be sure to contact Drs. Ratinoff or Mann in Palo Alto if you suspect Pink Eye.

Source: Removing a Foreign Body from Your Eye, article by All rights reserved.  Reproduction other than for one-time personal use is strictly prohibited.

Here Are Some Commonly Asked Questions:

Eye Infections

        • What is an eye infection?
          It can be bacterial. Usually you experience red eyes, it can hurt, it can itch, may have discharge. It can be treated with medicated eye drops.
        • What should I do if I spill chemicals in my eye?
          Immediately rinse with water and call our office. Or go to an emergency room.
        • What should I do if I get sand, metal, or wood, in my eyes?
          We suggest that you call our office or go to an emergency room. Also try to irrigate the eye with water.
        • I am seeing spots or floating colors suddenly
          If you are suddenly seeing floating spots/particles, flashing lights/spots (they don’t have to be colored) it’s necessary to be seen by an eye care professional immediately.
        • Are eye infections dangerous?
          Most eye infections are not dangerous but you should be checked because you may need treatment.
        • Can my child go to school with an eye infection?
          It would be best not to send them to school until they have been seen at our office or by any other eye care professional.

In any of these cases, if you wear contacts please remove them. One of THE most important things is to NOT rub your eyes.

Foreign Body Removal

        • I have sand stuck in my eye, is it dangerous?
          It can be dangerous because if the eye is scratched you are susceptible to corneal abrasions or infections and you should be seen. Again, DO NOT rub your eyes!
        • I have something stuck in my eye, how should I remove it?
          The eye is able to flush out small particles, such as eyelashes. However, you might need the doctor to remove the foreign body.
        • I feel like I have dirt in my eye when I wear contact lenses, is that dangerous?
          Any time your eyes are irritated from contacts there is usually an underlying reason for it. You should discontinue wear of contacts immediately and be seen by the doctor.
        • I spilled a chemical in my eye, what should I do?
          Rinse your eye heavily with water and call the doctor or visit an emergency room immediately!
        • I spilled some chemical in my eye, should I remove my contacts or leave them in?
          Rinse eye heavily with water and immediately call 911.


        • My child scratched my eye...what should I do?
          Scratches can be very painful; we recommend that you call the office to be seen by the doctor as soon as possible.
        • Is a scratch on the eye dangerous?
          If untreated it may cause permanent scarring or an infection, and you should be seen as soon as possible.


        • I got hit in the eye with a baseball, is that dangerous for my vision?
          It could be dangerous. If you are hit in the eye with a blunt object there is the possibility of internal damage to the eye from the extreme force. You should be seen immediately by our office an eye care professional.
        • Should I visit an eye doctor if I got a black eye?
          Because of the possible of trauma by being hit you should be seen in our office or by an eye care professional as soon as possible.
        • I have pain in my eye after getting a black eye, should I visit the emergency room or an eye doctor?
          Either one is good. Whenever you experience pain it is important to been seen as soon as possible to make sure it isn’t anything severe.


        • My toddler is complaining that his eye hurts, should I make an appointment with the Optometrist?
          Contact your pediatrician for further advice.
        • My child came home from school saying that his eye hurts, what should I do?
          When children say their eyes hurt it could be a number of things. Either, their eyes hurt because they are straining to see and need glasses, which in that case yes they should see the optometrist. Their eyes could be dry due to allergies or dry eye syndrome, or they may have accidentally scratched/injured their eye.
          If all they say is their eye hurt ask some follow up questions like: Do both eyes hurt or just one?, do they hurt all the time or sometimes? Call us to go over these answers so we can see what kind of appointment they may need.
        • My child’s eye looks very red, what should I do?
          Contact our office for an over the phone screening, so we can further evaluate what the next step should be.
        • My child has a weird bump in his eye, should I make an appointment?
          Call the office for advice, and we can give further instructions on the following steps.

Severe Emergencies

        • I just lost my vision in one eye, should I visit the emergency room?
          No. Call our office or an eye care professional immediately.
        • My eye is bleeding what should I do?
          If there is not blood discharge calls the office for advice and an appointment. Otherwise, if blood is discharging from the eye please go to the emergency room immediately.
        • I am seeing double, should I go to the eye doctor?
          Call the office to make an appointment to determine possible causes.
        • I have severe pain in my eye, what do I do?
          Please call the office for advice, and we can schedule a time for you to come in.
        • I feel a lot of pressure behind my eye, what should I do?
          Call the office immediately to schedule a time to come in to treat the issue.

MASKS REQUIRED: Per Santa Clara County guidelines, patients will be required to wear masks while inside our office.