Help for the unhappy irritated eye
Itchy eyes and dry eyes are common eye problems that can be caused by numerous external and internal factors. A red eye typically indicates inflammation in the conjunctiva, the clear membrane that coats the outermost surface of the eye and the inside of the eyelids, and is a warning sign that you should see you eye doctor.
One of the most common causes of an itchy eye is allergic conjunctivitis, or more simply, seasonal allergies. Ragweed, pollen, mold, pet dander, and food allergies can cause itchy irritated eyes. Itchy eyes can also result from bacterial or viral infection. Conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, can be caused by many different strains of disease causing organisms. To keep these nasty oranisms from making your eye a home, avoid touching around your eyes or eye rubbing. A virus can live on surfaces for 4 to 6 hours. Touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eye can result in a viral conjunctivitis, or "pinkeye."
In addition to eye irritation, itchiness, and ocular discharge, sufferers may encounter swelling, redness, excess tearing, light sensitivity and in some cases blurred vision.
The most important step to treating your irritated eyes is to determine the source of the problem. Is there a history of allergies in your family? Did you just get a new pet? Do the symptoms coincide with a seasonal shift? Consulting an eye doctor will help you determine what is causing your symptoms.
Once the cause is determined, the proper treatment can then be chosen. Oral medications, such as antihistamines are a common treatment, but these may the side effect of eye dryness. Fortunately, other options are available such as antihistamine eye drops, mild topical steroids, and topical ointments. There are many other treatments available, but the decision as to which one is best to use should be left to your physician or an ophthalmologist. Over-the-counter eye drops and medications are also available, but these are for short term relief only, and are not intended to provide long term treatment. An examination by an eye doctor can help determine the cause and proper treatment to most quickly, efficiently, and safely treat your eye irritation and prevent it from coming back. Stronger medications can be prescribed that last longer and require less frequent dosing, so you can spend more time doing the activities you enjoy rather than administering eye drops.
You should not rub or touch around your eyes. This may put allergens in contact with your eye or spread the infection to the other eye. Rubbing the eyes can induce astigmatism and result in droopy eyelids. Avoid using old mascara or eye make up. Avoid sharing items that might transmit a viral conjunctivitis, such as eye drops, washcloths, or pillows. It is important to wash your hands before and after touching around your eyes. This will reduce your risk of putting allergens or an infectious virus in your eye. An once of prevention is worth a pound of cure.