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Learn About Eye Irritants

Illustration of an irritated eye

Eye Irritants

In this section, we will review some common conditions that can irritate the eyes.

Pink Eye

Pink eye, known clinically as conjunctivitis, is an irritation on the clear membrane in the eye. It's prompted by a bacterial or viral infection. In some, the exact same symptoms can exist from an allergy.

What are the symptoms of pink eye?

Pink eye can be painful and irritating once the infection strikes. Along with the whites of the eye turning pink or red, other common symptoms are swollen eyelids, a lot of tearing, drainage, crusty eyelids and sensitivity to vibrant light.

Is pink eye contagious?

Yes. Pink eye is very contagious and spreads very easily and quickly to other individuals. It is generally as a result of improper hand washing after touching the infected region of the eye. It may also spread through the use of the same towel, pillowcase or other object that a person with pink eye has used.

Small children that have pink eye will need to stay away from a daycare or school setting. In most cases, an individual is no longer contagious after 24 hours of being on antibiotics.

How do you treat pink eye?

Though pink eye might be irritating, it is rarely severe and won't affect long-term vision, as long as it is detected and handled promptly. In some situations, if a person becomes a continual sufferer of pink eye, it may point out an underlying illness in the body. If pink eye is suspected, make an appointment with your eye doctor.

The optometrist or ophthalmologist can commonly make a diagnosis of pink eye depending on signs or symptoms. In some scenarios, they may conduct a brief eye exam to determine the reason behind the infection. Prescription eye drops are typically prescribed to alleviate the infection and provide relief. It's also a good rule of thumb to wash all towels and pillowcases after 24 hours of antibiotic use.


What is a stye?

A stye is a bacterial infection that happens along the base of the eyelid or an eye lash. It looks like a little pimple on the gland and can grow and turn red in color as it swells. Most sties come from a clogged gland. Dirt, debris, oil or makeup can get caught up in that gland, which traps bacteria in the gland with it. The result is a growth - a protective bubble around the infection that allows your body to uproot the infection and rid it from the gland.

What do you do if you get a stye?

Treat it. Many sties can be treated at home. If you've left your stye untreated for days and it's causing extreme pain or discomfort, seek medical treatment for faster relief. Here are some things you can do if you get a stye:

First: Keep your hands very clean. You don't want to add more bacteria to the mix, nor do you want to spread the infection. Avoid touching your eye and the stye with your bare hands and, if you do, wash them thoroughly with soap and water before touching anything else. DO NOT treat the stye like a pimple and attempt to pop it.

Second: Keep a warm compress on the affected area. The warmth from a clean, wet washcloth (soaked in very warm water) should bring relief and help draw out the infection helping the swelling to go down. If it's causing you pain, use over the counter painkillers to help.

Third: Clean it carefully. Many optometrists and ophthalmologists recommend a gentle cleanser like baby shampoo to clean your eye lids and lashes. Do not try to wear makeup or cover up the stye with any cosmetic or topical products. This could get in your eye and make the stye worse.

Fourth: If the stye doesn't go away after about a week, or seems to be worsening, don't hesitate to contact your Eyeglass World eye doctor for assistance.

Corneal Abrasions

What is a corneal abrasion?

A scratched cornea, or a corneal abrasion, is one of the most common eye injuries. It can cause red eyes, discomfort, and even sensitivity to light. In some cases, you will know exactly how you scratched your cornea (such as a sports or a work-related injury). In other cases, it may be a mystery as to why the symptoms of a corneal abrasion have suddenly appeared.

In a corneal abrasion, the top cells of the outer cellular layer of your cornea have been worn away. This causes your eye to hurt as those lower cells are exposed. The pain will often remain until your eye can heal itself and build back that top layer.

How do you get a corneal abrasion?

Some of the most common sources of corneal abrasions can be small pieces of dirt or dust that have made their way to your eye and gotten scratched onto your cornea as you wiped your lid. Corneal abrasions are also one of the most reported sports-related eye injuries as they can be caused by being knocked in the eye by another player or a piece of equipment.

If you have a corneal abrasion, it's best to see an optometrist or ophthalmologist right away. Your doctor can make sure you've only scratched the surface of the eye and recommend a course of treatment for you.

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