On April 22, the American Optometric Association (AOA) urged patients with emergency eye care needs to get in touch with their local optometrist prior to seeking treatment in hospital emergency rooms. Doing so not only eases the burden on emergency departments but also helps prevent the spread of COVID-19.
What Is Considered an Eye Emergency?
Most eye-related conditions can be treated in an outpatient optometry office or clinic. Emergency eye care includes, but is not limited to, urgent clinical advice or intervention for eye injuries and conditions that entail a foreign object in the eye, chemical burns, a sudden change in vision, flashes and floaters (which might suggest a retinal detachment), contact lens discomfort, red eyes and any other problems or symptoms that may impact or interfere with daily activities.
Prioritizing Your Eye Care Needs During COVID-19
During the coronavirus outbreak, we have been going above and beyond to ensure that people are receiving the emergency eye care they need.
Patients should first contact Blount County Eye Center for guidance and potential treatment prior to heading to an overwhelmed hospital emergency room. Dr. William Tantum can assess the level of care the patient needs—whether it's telehealth or urgent care that requires a visit to the eye clinic or, in severe cases, even the emergency room.
This will ensure that patients get prompt treatment while allowing hospitals to conserve their resources for the current pandemic. In fact, research has shown that treating eye emergencies at eye doctors' offices can potentially divert 1.4 million patients away from emergency rooms per year.
While we have closed our store for routine appointments, Blount County Eye Center at Maryville continues to provide emergency care for those who need it. We'd like to reassure our patients that we are here to help with anyone’s emergency eye care requirements – for both for new and existing patients.