This is why doctors look in your eyes with a light. Everything from allergies to autoimmune diseases can present with ocular symptoms first. And while red eyes, discharge, itching, light sensitivity or visual changes can be uncomfortable enough to bring patients in to see their optometrists, some symptoms, like optic nerve or vascular changes, take place inside the eye and can go unnoticed. This is why it’s important for adults to have an eye exam every two years. Eye symptoms combined with a patient’s medical history will alert doctors to possible systemic diseases.
What is Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye?
Commonly known as Pink Eye – Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, transparent layer that covers the inner eyelid and the white portion at the front of the eye (the sclera). An irritation will cause the blood vessels contained in the conjunctiva to dilate, which is what causes red or bloodshot eyes. It is often associated with either watery discharge or sticky, mucous discharge). Although conjunctivitis is common among children and may be caused by a minor infection, all ages may be affected. It is important to note that some forms of conjunctivitis may develop into a more serious problem if not diagnosed and treated properly.
What Causes Conjunctivitis?
There are 3 categories of conjunctivitis which differ in offending agent:
1. Infectious Conjunctivitis
Those who have contracted conjunctivitis may experience some of the following symptoms:
1. Infectious Conjunctivitis:
Bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointments prescribed by your eye doctor.
Viral conjunctivitis, unlike bacterial infections, cannot be treated with antibiotics. This form of conjunctivitis is self-limited, which means that the infection will go away on its own anywhere between 7 days to several weeks duration.
Some doctors of optometry use off-label treatment for viral conjunctivitis to clear away as much virus as possible in the eye while the immune system has a chance to kick in and help stop the spread of the virus (see Betadine treatment for info). Sometimes (steroid) eye drops are used to prevent scarring of cornea.
Artificial tears can be used frequently, and applying a wet, cold washcloth to the infected eye to relieve discomfort from the symptoms. (NOTE: Due to the highly contagious nature of this type of pink eye, be very careful not to share used cloths!) – frequent hand washing, avoid touching eyes, sharing towels, etc. are important. Patients are also advised to stay away from school/work for a full 2 weeks from onset of viral conjunctivitis as it is contagious during this period (10-12 days).
2. Allergic Conjunctivitis:
Allergy medications (antihistamine) can help provide relief, shorten the length, and sometimes even prevent the onset of allergic conjunctivitis. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, speak with your doctor about beginning these medications early in order to get ahead of the symptoms.
3. Chemical Conjunctivitis
The treatment of chemical conjunctivitis depends on the degree of exposure. For minor irritation such as chlorine from swimming in a pool, carefully rinse the eyes and consider purchasing a good pair of goggle for future activities. More acute chemical exposure may be a medical emergency and call for immediate medical attention.
Tips to Prevent Pink Eye (These are especially true for viral forms, but also make sense for bacterial forms.)
With a better understanding of the different forms of conjunctivitis, here are some easy tips to help reduce the risk of contracting the very contagious viral conjunctivitis:
The opto.ca is not a substitute for a visit to a doctor of optometry or other health professionals. Most problems require an exam, in person, by an optometrist or other health care professional.
Excerpt from: https://opto.ca/health-library/conjunctivitis
Every day - whether it is sunny or cloudy, we are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Often we don t realize it since UV radiation is invisible to the eye. Out of sight however, should not mean out of mind!
Sun can damage skin in many ways including wrinkling, skin cancer, premature aging and burning. The sun can also be harmful to your eyes. Too much unprotected exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) can cause photokeratitis. Like skin sunburn, photokeratitis is sunburn of the eye. It can be very painful and often results in redness tearing and sensitivity to light. These symptoms usually clear up quickly and cause no permanent damage to the eye.
However, unprotected exposure over long periods of time can - and often does - damage the eye. Exposure to UV can greatly increase the chance of cataracts and damage to the retina. Both conditions can seriously impair vision.
Fortunately, damage can be prevented by wearing UV eye protection. This is especially true for children whose risk is higher because the lens in their eye doesn't block as much UV and because they spend so much time outside.
Here are a few important points to keep in mind before you send your child outside.
Adults also need to take precaution when they are in the sun. Before you go out without a pair of sunglasses, take note of the facts about UV damage.
Protecting yourself and your children from the effects of UV rays on your eyes is easy. Wearing sunglasses with 100% UV protection is the best way to shield your eyes from the sun as well as dirt dust and other particles that can irritate the eyes.
Sunglasses - with or without a prescription - that can block out nearly all UV radiation are now readily available. Lenses should be gray green or brown and the larger the lenses the better. Wrap-around sunglasses provide an extra measure of protection as does wearing a hat with a wide brim.
Contact lens wearers can get lenses that filter out a lot of UV radiation. While these lenses should not be used in place of sunglasses they help screen out light that comes in around the top and sides of glasses.
People at high risk for developing problems from UV exposure include those who spend long hours in the sun because of work or recreation, those who have had cataract and/or refractive surgery, individuals who have certain retinal disorders and people who take certain medications such as tetracycline, sulfa drugs, birth control pills, diuretics and tranquilizers. They increase the eyes sensitivity to light.
Buying sunglasses from a professional or a professional organization is the best bet. This ensures the sunglasses have the appropriate amounts of UV filtering and are the most suitable protection for your eyes while in the sun. Buying sunglasses from street vendors is risky. There s no assurance that the eyewear no matter how dark the lens will protect against UV rays.
Another way to help protect your eyes from UV rays is to wear photochromic lenses which are eyeglass lenses that darken when exposed to UV light. Photochromics are a good choice for an everyday lens because they automatically protect against UV. While sunglasses give comfort in very bright light conditions they are not always convenient in changing light conditions.
Photochromics are available in plastic and glass and recent innovations have made the plastic lenses much lighter, scratch-resistant and shatter-proof. They are the most versatile option for prescription wearers. It is important to note however that not all plastic photochromic lenses block 100% UVA and UVB radiation. For more information about the damaging effects of UV contact our professionals - at Cole Harbour Optometry!
Tips and Tricks
For 22 years Dr. Amy Manchanda has been a practicing optometrist. With a passion for eye health and how it affects nutrition, Dr. Manchanda offers counselling for holistic treatment of a number of common eye conditions.
Cole Harbour Optometry
6 Forest Hills Parkway