In-sight into eye health
If, like me, you wear contact lenses you’re probably aware of the importance of good eye health or at least you should be, but it’s all too easy to forget – until an eye problem strikes.
Eye infections are caused by bacteria, fungi and viruses and can affect one or both eyes. If one eye is infected be ultra cautious, as the infection can easily spread if you’re not careful (and not just to your other eye, but to your family’s eyes too).
One of the most common eye infections is conjunctivitis (often referred to as ‘pink eye’ as it causes pinkness of the conjunctiva).
The most likely causes of conjunctivitis are viral infections, bacterial diseases and allergies. Despite being familiar with the term conjunctivitis and knowing through personal experience that it’s common in kids – especially those in daycare – I’ve never really learnt about the causes of conjunctivitis or the best course of action.
Eye care and eye health is not something that’s commonly discussed or taught in schools but given the importance of our eyes, it’s perhaps something that should be given a little more priority. I took it upon myself to understand the different types of conjunctivitis and brush up on best practice eye care in a bid to protect my family’s eye health.
Viral conjunctivitis comes about through airborne viruses that are spread through coughs and sneezes. It’s common for viral conjunctivitis to partner with the common cold or flu (as if having the flu isn’t enough to contend with!).
Symptoms can include swollen eyelids, eyes can take on a glassy appearance and they may feel uncomfortable. This type of conjunctivitis can last 1 to 2 weeks but will eventually disappear on its own accord. However, to ease the discomfort, try applying a cold compress to the eyes.
Bacterial conjunctivitis can be identified through the thick yellowy discharge that accompanies it. Eyes may be red and the eyelashes can become crusty after sleep.
Bacterial conjunctivitis usually occurs through exposure to contaminated surfaces or objects such as shared towels or face cloths. A topical antibiotic eye drop will usually clear up the condition within about a week.
Although allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious, it’s equally as annoying and uncomfortable as the viral and bacterial forms. It is caused when the body reacts to an airborne irritant such as pet hair, dust or pollen.
Eyes can become watery, itchy, red and swollen. Cool compresses can reduce the severity of the symptoms but the best and quickest course of action is to take antihistamines.
Tips for optimal eye health
- Make sure you clean your contact lenses properly.
- Avoid using old make-up or sharing eye make-up with friends.
- Good hygiene of the hands and face can help keep eye infections at bay.
- People who suffer from recurrent conjunctivitis should have their own towel /face cloth, which is not shared with others.
- Eating foods rich in beta-carotene (carrots, sweets potatoes, butternut squash and spinach) can help aid eye health, while omega-3 fatty acids (found in oily fish, walnuts and flaxseed oil) can help prevent dry eyes.
Don’t take your eye health for granted. Make sure you look after the windows to your soul so that you can see clearly into the future.
by Leanne Philpott