Some eye problems can be treated at home but remember to use common sense. If it appears the problem is with the eyeball it’s self, see a physician immediately; if you use an over-the-counter (OTC) eye-care product for 72 hours and do not see improvement or if the condition worsens, seek professional help.
Blepharitis is a common eye condition that is caused by inflammation of the eyelid. It is caused by a bacterial infection, seborrheic dermatitis and is also associated with rosacea. It is characterized by red, scaly, and thickened eyelids. There is usually some loss of the eyelashes as well. The most common complaints are itching, flaking and burning. Treat by applying warm compresses, followed by an eye scrub. If the condition persists you may need to see a doctor for antibiotics.
Lice can get in your lids and cause symptoms similar to blepharitis. It is common in school-age children and with multi-generations living in one home, it is conceivable that an elderly person in the home may become infested. You can see the adult lice moving at the base of the lashes. Apply petrolatum or non-medicated ointment to the eyelid to suffocate the lice eggs. Do not use commercial lice preparations that are designed for the hair, near the eyes.
Contact dermatitis causes swelling, scaling, or redness of the eyelid with intense itching. It is usually triggered by an allergy to something new such as makeup or soap, or maybe exposure to a foreign substance. If both the upper and lower eyelids are affected, it is most likely an allergy. Treat with OTC antihistamines taken by mouth.
Foreign body such as lint, dust or an eyelash can become stuck in the eye. Try to wash it out with a saline eye wash or water or you can try to gently lift it out with your finger or a folded tissue. If unsuccessful, see a doctor. The eye may continue to feel as if something is in there for a while after removal if the cornea (the thin covering over the iris and pupil) becomes scratched or irritated. OTC artificial tears or lubricants should relieve the discomfort.
Burns can be caused by the sun’s UV rays causing minor damage. An eye lubricant can be applied to soothe the eye and lights should be dimmed. If the condition persists for more than 24 hours or the burn is more severe, such as from a welder’s arc, see a doctor immediately.
Dry eyes maybe mildly reddened and feel sandy, gritty and dry even though there may be increased tear production. Dry eyes may be associated with increased age, air pollution, dry mouth, autoimmune diseases and some medications. There are many OTC eye drops to treat dry eyes and prescription strength medications are also available.
Hordeolum or more commonly, a sty, is an inflammation of the glands within the eyelid. Characterized as a raised, red and tender nodule on the eyelid, the eyelid can become so swollen it appears to be completely shut. It is usually caused by the same bacteria that causes blepharitis. Treatment consists of applying warm compresses several times a day. Occasionally an antibiotic may need to be prescribed.
Chalazion is similar to hordeolum but without the tenderness. Treatment is warm compresses several times a day.
Blunt trauma to the eye, abrasions, and chemical exposures should all be evaluated by an ophthalmologist. Any chemical exposures should be flushed immediately with large amounts of water. Hold the eye open under running water for at least 2 minutes.
Seek prompt medical attention for sudden blurring, loss of vision, light flashes, halos around objects, or starbursts around lights, obvious pain, cut or torn eyelid, one eye that protrudes more than the other, one eye that does not move as completely as the other, abnormal pupil size or shape,something embedded under the eyelid that cannot be easily removed or something embedded in the eyeball.
Occasional floaters or small pinpoint flashes of light are normal, if somewhat annoying. Small cells or bits of fiber float between your lens and retina and you amuse other people as they watch you swatting at gnats that only you can see. If you suddenly see many more floaters than normal and they are accompanied by flashes of light, get to an ophthalmologist immediately since this could be the first sign of a detaching retina. This is a serious medical condition requiring prompt intervention to prevent loss of sight.
There is one more eye problem I want to cover but we will get to that tomorrow.