Article from VSP EnVision Newsletter, December 2013
Many people avoid seeing the eye doctor because they’re embarrassed about their far-from-friendly eye issue or they think it’s not treatable. Occasionally, we can get away with ignoring problems (Spilled food on the floor? That’s what the dog’s for.), but why mess around when it comes to your eyes? Mark Lipton, OD, a VSP doctor at Beach Eye Care in Virginia Beach, VA, chimes in on some common eye conditions and what you should do about them.
A stye is a tender, pimple-like bump that forms along the edge of the eyelid. Dr. Lipton explains, “Sties are a result of an infection caused by bacteria buildup in the glands of the eyelids.” They usually go away on their own in about a week, but you can apply a warm compress a few times a day for 10-15 minutes to help the process along and ease discomfort. Keep the area clean and don’t try to pop the stye as that could make it even worse.” If it doesn’t seem to be getting any better after a week, contact your VSP eye doctor for alternative treatment.
Red, itchy, and watery eyes could be signs of conjunctivitis—also called pink eye. “Conjunctivitis is an inflammation that causes the lining of the eye to become red, swollen, and painful,” says Dr. Lipton. “It can be caused by a virus or by bacteria and lasts about seven to ten days. Allergies, dry eyes, and exposure to chemicals or smoke can also cause this inflammation.” Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious, so if you suspect you have it, avoid contact with others and see your VSP eye doctor right away.
Like sties and conjunctivitis, blepharitis is a bacteria-based condition. Dr. Lipton comments, “Symptoms of this condition include red, blurry, itchy eyes and inflamed eyelids as well as a feeling that something’s constantly in your eye.” Causes include rubbing your eyes with dirty hands or sleeping while wearing eye makeup. “While there’s no cure for blepharitis, you can treat symptoms by gently washing your eyelids each day with a diluted mixture of hypoallergenic baby shampoo and warm water to control bacteria buildup.”
Reduce Your Risk
You can’t always prevent eye infections, but Dr. Lipton recommends reducing your risk by following a few simple rules:
- Avoid touching your eyes, especially if your hands aren’t clean.
- Toss out old makeup, wash off eye makeup before bed, and never share cosmetics with other people.
- Steer clear of cigarette smoke.
- Carefully clean and store your contacts daily.
The content of this article is for general informational awareness purposes only. Please consult your eye care doctor or physician for actual advice.