Maybe the askme crowd can tell me I'm overreacting?
September 30, 2009 3:23 PM   Subscribe

I messed up my eye - please help me figure out doctor stuff.

This morning one of my contact lenses fell out without my knowing, and I spent some time trying to remove/fix the non-existent lens, as a result really nastily pulling at and irritating my eye. It now feels sort of bruised and sore on one side. My vision is normal and the sensitive area looks pink and irritated.

The internet is unhelpful but is pretty clear that minor eye problems can become bad if they get infected. I'm not sure if something is torn, but I don't want to mess around with my eyes. I'd like to see someone about it tomorrow if it doesn't feel better then.

My problem is inexperience in dealing with doctors, and the fact that I'm at school - my regular doctor and optometrist are far away. I do have insurance.

Is this something I should go find an emergency room for? To be honest I haven't been to one before and that seems over-the-top. Would urgent care places be prepared for eye-related things? Frankly, the small clinic in the local CVS is the most convenient place. My university (Ohio State) is huge and has a medical center, but I have no experience navigating it beyond getting prescriptions. Wondering where to go for things like this has always been an issue with me.

Any insight would be helpful - especially if someone has had a similar experience and does/doesn't think it's that serious.
posted by Solon and Thanks to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
I've done this before. I tried to pull out the lens in the evening and my eye was burning all night. It felt fine by the next morning. Is it just generally pink and itchy? How many hours has it been?

Do you have university insurance?
posted by just.good.enough at 3:29 PM on September 30, 2009

Response by poster: No, I'm with my parents' insurance. The one questionably-authoritative thing I read said a similar problem would heal in a day. So I thought, if this is still messed up in a day I'll go somewhere in the morning.

Maybe 7 hours. It's not itchy, more sore. It was sensitive to the point of hurting when I blinked at one point, but it kind of goes in and out.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:34 PM on September 30, 2009

when i wore contacts (about 4-5 years ago), this happened to me. either exactly what you described, or i was trying a new brand of contacts and it took me a while to adjust to how thin they were so i ended up touching my eyes way too much.

even though my eyes were sore when i would blink, i always felt fine the next day.

if you're still sore tomorrow, or still concerned, then go to a clinic. if they don't have someone on staff who can help with eye-specific concerns, they'll be able to refer you to someone.

best of luck!
posted by gursky at 4:20 PM on September 30, 2009

Thirding "you'll probably fine".

Use some lubricating eyedrops and don't worry about it until tomorrow.

I am not a doctor (but I play one TV)
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 4:26 PM on September 30, 2009

When this happened to me, the optometrist told me to wear glasses for a week and use lubricating eye drops. Not Visine, which is terrible for your eyes, but an actual tear replacement. Basically trying to remove a nonexistent contact leaves tiny abrasions on your eye and you just want to give it time to heal. I didn't need antibiotics.
posted by hindmost at 4:40 PM on September 30, 2009

I agree that it's probably not serious but regardless, you should still get it checked out if it's still sore tomorrow. Just because other people didn't develop an infection doesn't mean you won't.

Your CVS clinic or the Uni Med centre should be fine. Either ring the main reception-type phone number or drop in and tell them what's going on and that you're not sure who you should see. At the least if they can't help you they can give you guidance as to who can. It's perfectly fine to be unsure where to go, sorting that out is part of their job too.
posted by shelleycat at 5:30 PM on September 30, 2009

IANAD, but this has happened to me before (ahem, possibly more than once), and each time my eye was sore and irritated, but after a period of time of leaving it alone (generally coinciding with going to bed), it was back to normal, and I felt fine. I'd suggest avoiding your contacts for a day or two, trying to close your eyes for a bit (blinking and normal eye movement can continue to irritate an already irritated eye), and resisting the urge to rub it. Using some saline or lubricating drops isn't a bad idea either. If your discomfort persists more than 24 hours, you might want to see an eye doctor just to err on the side of caution.
posted by katemcd at 5:35 PM on September 30, 2009

IAAFSI (I Am A Far-Sighted Idiot) and I have done this more times than I can count. Wear your glasses for a few days to give your eye a break. I've found using an eye wash from the drug store soothing at such a time, but not necessary. Definitely not an ER situation.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:41 PM on September 30, 2009

In regards to who to see when: I also go to a big midwestern U and there, even if you have your parents insurance, you're still entitled to use student health for prescriptions, blood tests, and minor urgent care-y type stuff. IF that's the case for you (and their website says it is), I'd go there first. It's probably "free" (i.e. you or your parents pay a required fee for it), and if they can't help you, they will be able to refer you to a discounted place that can help. You can even schedule an appointment online. Also, Lenscrafters type places often have discounted optician services (though if you've caused actual harm, you want an ophthamologist, in which case you, after talking to student health, would want to call your parents to go through your parents insurance for the referral).
posted by eleanna at 6:11 PM on September 30, 2009

Ha. I did this a couple of times many years ago. And much worse. (There's nothing like rubbing your eye absentmindedly while slicing jalapenos.)

Just keep it closed (cover it with a makeshift patch if that helps with your discipline; it can be hard to keep one eye closed) and it'll fix/flush itself in time.
posted by rokusan at 6:11 PM on September 30, 2009

n'thing "you'll probably be fine" - but adding: it is your eye. Better safe than sorry - could be a good opportunity to head to the uni health center, with your insurance information, and figure out how the system works. That way you'll know how to handle yourself should anything more serious arise, rather than having to wait on us to tell you what to do.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:31 PM on September 30, 2009

nthing the many 'prob fine but you prob don't want to screw around w/ that. better safe than sorry" bits.

in regards to navigating the system, my school had an on campus health center for the university's students. it was a good starting point for most health problems we encountered. we could do drop ins or make an appointment. we also had an optometrist there most days of the week. It's the starting point for most students (if only because of the convenience factor), and if more tests were needed or more complicated procedures had to be done, they'd refer us to the actual large university hospitals or med centers in the area at that point.

It seems like ohio state has something similar here maybe?
I had insurance through the school so little checkups like this would have been free. YMMV with your insurance & school, of course.
posted by mittenedsex at 3:13 AM on October 1, 2009

your medical center probably has a help / advice desk you can call to advise you on this. and they're not just jokers on the internet
posted by CharlesV42 at 6:23 AM on October 1, 2009

You'll be fine. Give your eyes a break and wear glasses if you can.
posted by Brian Puccio at 4:43 PM on October 1, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice, everyone, it calmed me down a bit. My eye hurt for longer than most of you have experienced - most of yesterday, I did a number on it - but it feels fine this morning.

(I couldn't get a a last-minute appointment with my school's Optometry department, and it started feeling better before I visited the emergency place.)
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:41 AM on October 2, 2009

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