The surface of the eye is one of the most sensitive parts of the body. Any of these unfortunate events can ruin your day:
Bacterial or viral infection (pinkeye)
Foreign bodies - metal, dirt, mulch, sand, insects, microbeads, glitter, plastic particles, to name a few
A simple scratch or abrasion to the surface of the eye
Chemicals in the eye
Flash burn from welding
These are all very different scenarios and all require very different treatments.
A lot of people end up initially seeing their family practitioner or pediatrician. Some may even visit an urgent care clinic or even emergency room. While all of these physicians are allowed to treat all of these common eye injuries, they often lack some of the necessary equipment to properly evaluate an eye. Many times, they will prescribe a basic antibiotic and hope things improve.
Your Optometrist or Ophthalmologist will be able to evaluate your eyes with high powered magnification through a slit lamp biomicroscope. They may even use special types of stain or dye to evaluate the surface of the eye even more closely. This helps insure the proper diagnosis and treatment from the first visit.
Your eye doctor will also be able to help get you feeling better more quickly with bandage contact lenses and steroid eye drops when it's advisable.