Taking good care of your eyes

The eyes are reputed to be the mirror of the soul and they are one of the first things you notice about any person you are meeting for the first time.

Eyes are precious and it pays to take good care of them, they work very hard for you all your life! Doctors pay a lot of attention to the eye when making examinations as they often indicate other underlying illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Everyone whether requiring prescription glasses or contact lenses made of moisturizing material should have a regular eye examination with a qualified professional for this reason.

Bloodshot eyes occur when the blood vessels in the eyes start to appear more pronounced and red. The upshot of this is that your eyes feel very tired and gritty and very uncomfortable. Common causes include tiredness, swimming in chlorinated water in swimming pools and being exposed to some form of pollution e.g. smog, smoke, fumes. Over the counter, eyewash or eye-drops will normally relieve the problem. If however the redness has been caused by a broken or burst blood vessel then you should get this checked out by a qualified professional as soon as possible.

Sore eyes can be the result of eye strain or smoky dusty atmospheres. If you have used eye washes or eye drops to no avail you could be suffering from eye strain. Again you should see your practitioner as soon as possible.

Foreign bodies in the eye occur when something gets trapped in the eye, this could be dust, sand, grit or even an eyelash. To help remove the foreign body try using eyewash to rinse the eye clean. If the eye has become over irritated or scratched this may need a visit to your optician, doctor or hospital depending on the severity of the problem. If in doubt always seek professional advice.

Dry eyes are the result of the eye failing to produce enough tears to properly lubricate the eye. The eye may feel dry, gritty, sting or all three. Dry eye can be caused by a dry atmosphere; such was working in an air-conditioned office, prolonged exposure to looking at computer screen. It can also be an age-related condition and may be caused by illness such as arthritis or as a side effect of certain medications. Dry eyes can be prevented by taking regular breaks from computer screens as laid down in Health and Safety regulations, taking breaks from dry office and home environs, wearing contacts that keep the tears in the eyes as recommended by your optician. Over the counter, lubricating gels can also provide relief. If the problem persists you should consult professional advice.

Tired eyes can be caused by lack of sleep, driving on long journeys, doing lots of close work, reading in poor light conditions. The extra stress often makes the eye look puffy and tired and the eye feels irritated. The best way to relieve tired eyes is to ensure you get lots of sleep and take period rests to relax the eye when doing close work or driving long distances.

Eye infections such as conjunctivitis may make your eyes sore and red and are often accompanied by a discharge which is yellow in color and sticky. It is usually apparent first thing in the morning when you wake up. Young children, adults over 40 and contact lens wearer are more prone to eye infections. To treat and prevent the spread of eye infections consult professional advice as soon as possible.

If at all possible:

1] Avoid contact with the affected person – eye infections are highly contagious.

2] Avoid touching the eye.

3] Wash your hands before touching the eye, and wash them again afterward.

4] Ensure you follow contact lens cleaning procedures fully.

5] Remove eye make up before going to bed.

6] As you get older you may need to use lubricating drops to ensure the eyes are properly lubricated.

Allergy or Hay-fever can make eyes feel itchy and look pink or inflamed. Try to identify the cause of the allergy and remove it. Take antihistamines as prescribed and use dark glasses when in strong sunlight. Allergenic eye drops are now available over the counter to help ease hay fever symptoms.

General tips to keep eyes healthy are:

1] Eat a varied diet that includes fresh fruit and vegetables.

2] Drink plenty of water and avoid dehydration, this is especially important in the hay-fever season.

3] Get enough sleep.

4] Have regular eye examinations, even when you don’t need to wear glasses or contact lenses.

5] Consider taking multivitamin supplements that are targeted to eye health. these are available in your local pharmacy.