When to see your eye doctor / Floaters, pain, vision loss - A State of Sight #127

Many patients wonder when they need to see an eye specialist. In this episode of A State of Sight with Isaac Porter, MD, three primary reasons to get an eye exam are explained.

These include new floaters in the vision, eye pain with redness, and decreased vision. Watch this episode to learn more.


Welcome to A State of Sight, I’m Isaac Porter and this is your update in ophthalmology and eye care from Raleigh. Today, I would like to explain a few reasons why you should go to see your eye doctor. Frequently we have patients call wondering if they need to be seen based upon their symptoms.

First, if patients notice new floaters in their vision or new black spots moving in their vision, we always recommend that they get their eyes checked. A lot of people already have some floaters in their eyes that are longstanding. We worry about new floaters, ones that haven’t been there before, or spots that are be associated with bright flashes of light like electricity or flashbulbs in the vision.

New floaters could be a sign of a retinal problem, so we always want to take a look to make sure that the retina looks good and healthy. If you look back to episode #36 of A State of Sight, we go into more detail about floaters and the possible problems it could indicate with the retina.

Another reason to see your eye doctor would be if your eye becomes very painful or red. A lot of times when someone has conjunctivitis, their eye may be red but not very painful. If there is pain associated with the redness, it could be a sign of a serious infection. Particularly, we worry about eye pain after someone has had eye surgery like cataract surgery, LASIK, or other eye operations.

Contact lens wearers are at risk for developing a corneal ulcer or other infection in the front of their eye, so we definitely recommend that they come in for an exam when they notice eye pain and redness. More seriously, eye redness, pain, and light sensitivity could be signs of an attack of glaucoma or angle closure glaucoma.

Finally, we always recommend that our patients have an eye exam if they notice a decrease in their vision. Sometimes this can be mild or gradual, but when it’s worse it could be a problem with the health of the eye.

Decreased vision could be from a wide variety of reasons, too many to list now, but it can range from common problems like dry eyes or a poor tear film to more serious issues like retinal or optic nerve disorders. When the vision is more severely limited, we are more concerned for more severe eye problems.

If you have any questions about when you should visit your eye doctor, please post and we will be happy to answer them. We hope to see you again soon, next time on A State of Sight.