Information on urgent symptoms

If you are not sure, contact us.


Sudden loss of vision (can’t see) in one eye

This could represent a number of problems. The most serious (but most rare) is a stroke in the eye (central retinal artery occlusion) – this causes very sudden and very severe loss of vision which does not come back. It is imperative to be seen urgently and it will require immediate referral to a general hospital. There are a number of other things which can cause sudden loss of vision in one eye, for example a blocked vein and a bleed in the back of the eye. Some of these may require treatment and it is important to have to eye assessed. 


Painful eye

A painful eye could be caused by a scratch to the front of the eye, or inflammation in different parts of the eye. A painful eye, especially when accompanied by blurred vision, is important to have assessed urgently. If you are a contact lens wearer, you should be seen urgently to assess for a corneal infection.


New blurry vision which doesn’t resolve over a period of a few hours

This could be caused by a range of things, some of which may pose a risk to the vision, for example wet age-related muscular degeneration, or your health, for example temporal arteritis (an inflammation of the blood vessels). It is important to be assessed. 


New flashes and floaters

Flashes and floaters are most likely to be associated with a change in the jelly at the back of your eye and most are nothing to worry about. It is still very important to see patients with these symptoms if they are new because in a small number of people they may be a sign of a tear in the retina (the lining layer of the inside of the eye) or a detachment of the retina from the eye. It is, again, important to be assessed if you develop these symptoms. You can read all about flashes and floaters and retinal detachment here.


New red eye with blurry vision (especially contact lens wearers)

A red eye (especially when the vision remains normal) can often be caused by a viral infection, allergies or a scratch from a finger or a small piece of dust in the eye. IF there is a lot of yellow pus, the infection may be bacterial. If the vision becomes blurred, the eye is not getting better, if it is painful, if you are a contact lens wearer or if it is very difficult to tolerate bright lights, it is important to be assessed.


Eye trauma/ an accident which causes damage to the eye

Any trauma to the eye may cause damage to the eye which may need medical or surgical treatment. If the vision becomes blurred, the eye is painful or you are worried about other symptoms, it is important to have the eye assessed. 


Chemical injury to the eye

If a harmful substance makes contact with the eye, the FIRST thing to do at home is to flush it with water straight away with 1-2 litres before doing anything else. After this, it is extremely important to have a doctor assess the eye to ensure no further damage has been done to the eye.