Guest Essays, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Guest essay: ERs can be equipped for an eye emergency

by Geoff Bradford

A regular Health & Wellness column offering views by one of our local Morgantown optometrists often appears in The Dominion Post on Sundays. While the eye care messages given in these columns can often be helpful, the advice on seeking emergency eye care published in the Oct. 22 edition may create delays in receiving proper emergency care and bring harm to the individual.

True medical — and potentially surgical — eye emergencies are best addressed in an emergency room that has trained specialists, including ophthalmologists, who are familiar with and experienced in addressing serious ocular concerns.

The sudden onset of eye pain, redness or loss of vision, as addressed in the column, should not be ignored or delayed for a scheduled office visit. Such symptoms may be caused by very serious problems related to trauma, corneal ulcers and infections, severe glaucoma, complications of diabetes or serious abnormalities inside the eye that cannot be fully diagnosed or treated in an office setting. Other medical problems elsewhere in the body requiring a physician’s care may also be contributing to the eye concern and also need attention.

In an emergency, time is of the essence, and even though no one likes to visit one, the emergency room offers the best resources in such concerning times.

The ERs in Morgantown are well equipped for eye emergencies and have ophthalmologists on hand 24/7. Regional emergency departments in our area also have direct telephone access to consultations with ophthalmologists who are experienced in emergency eye care of all types, as well as transportation and transfer coordination resources to get patients to the care they urgently need ASAP.

Yes, as the column noted, regular visits to a trusted community eye doctor are prudent to address primary vision concerns. But with eye emergencies, it’s important to know that the best resources, access to experienced personnel and best chances for a good outcome are most likely to be found starting in our community emergency rooms.

Geoff Bradford has been an American Board of Ophthalmology-certified ophthalmologist in Morgantown in academic practice for over 25 years.