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How Medlineplus.gov Saved Me $100

Last Monday, a friend came up to me, gave a sharp exhalation and cried, “My God, what have you done to your eye? Did you poke it?” I felt fine and said “I haven’t done anything to my eye and it feels fine.” My friend told me that half of my left eye was blood red and that I ought to go look in the mirror at it.

I did and she was right. I immediately thought serious yet painless eye injury and thought about making an appointment with my nurse practitioner. Under our current “fee for service” health care system, it’s not possible to know in advance how much an office visit will be. But since it is the start of my plan year with a new $500 deductible, I think it is reasonable to assume I would pay at least $100 to have my eye evaluated.

Then I remembered medlineplus.gov, a patient-oriented resource from the National Library of Medicine. I hopped on over and did a search on “red eyes”. Several results came up, including this one on eye redness:

Eye redness (MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia – http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003031.htm.

It stated:

One common cause of a red eye is straining or coughing. This can lead to a bright red, uniformly dense bloody area on the sclera. This is called a subconjunctival hemorrhage. Although this bloody area may appear alarming, it is a fairly common occurrence and of little significance. If you notice a bloody blotch in one eye that doesn’t hurt, but just looks bad, don’t worry. It generally clears up on its own within a week or two.

My eye didn’t hurt me and I didn’t have any of symptoms below that the encyclopedia entry indicated I should contact my medical professional:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Go to the hospital or call 911 if:

  • Your eye is red after a penetrating injury.
  • You have a headache along with blurred vision or confusion.
  • You are seeing halos around lights.
  • You have nausea and vomiting.

Call your doctor if:

  • Your eyes are red longer than 1-2 days.
  • You have eye pain or vision changes.
  • You take blood thinning medication, like warfarin.
  • You may have an object in your eye.
  • You are very sensitive to light.
  • You have a yellow or greenish discharge from one or both eyes.

My eye did indeed clear up just fine after a few days. Problem solved. No money spent on doctors and no time missed from work. Providing free basic information and home care instruction is one way to cut down on health costs. But only if people pay attention. Hopefully my money and time saving story has got your attention. If it has, visit medlineplus.gov and check it out.

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