June 21, 2024

Care Nex

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8 Eye Issues You Should Never Ignore

4 min read

Eye redness 

Remember how allergies, smoke in the air and not sleeping enough can cause a burning sensation? Well, those irritants can also make blood vessels in your eye dilate and become more visible.

If your eye is red but feels fine and your vision is unaffected, you can just wait it out or use artificial tears to relieve the irritation. It’s not a great look, but it’s not a crisis.

Dramatic redness can occur if one of your small blood vessels breaks, causing a bright red patch of blood on the eye.

“It looks alarming, but it’s not. In essence, it’s just a bruise,” says Yu.

It’s when redness is accompanied by pain, burning, blurred vision, discharge or any other new symptom that you should seek out help from an ophthalmologist.

That includes pink eye, aka conjunctivitis, a highly contagious infection dreaded by preschool parents everywhere. Pink eye is redness and inflammation of the membranes covering the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids, most often caused by a virus but sometimes by bacteria.

Your eyes usually itch and have a sticky discharge, especially when you sleep. If you wake up unable to open your eye because it’s crusted together, it’s probably pink eye.

It’s always best to go to your primary care doc or an ophthalmologist to confirm your suspicion. Although viral pink eye will run its course — usually from a few days to a week — bacterial pink eye is treated with antibiotics. As difficult as it is to keep pink eye from spreading, you should refrain from rubbing or touching your eye. And you should wash your hands with warm soap and water if and when you do.

To alleviate crusting, use a clean washcloth rinsed in cold water as a compress. And don’t forget to use a new washcloth every time. Sigh.

Double vision 

From an ophthalmologist’s point of view, there are two types of double vision. (Or three if the ophthalmologist is a Foreigner fan.)

If your double vision resolves when you close one eye, this could result from a neurological problem, and you should go to the ophthalmologist or the emergency room pronto.

When closing one eye doesn’t fix things, it’s likely a result of dry eye or a cataract. For this type of double vision, go to an ophthalmologist instead of the emergency room.

Droopy eyelid 

As you get older, your eyelids will droop a bit from gravity and from your eye tissues naturally getting loose, but this is a gradual process and not an emergency. If one eyelid suddenly becomes droopy, though, go to the emergency room as this can be a sign of stroke, muscle disease or a nerve problem.

Odd-sized pupils 

You probably know that when it’s bright, your pupil shrinks and when it’s dim, your pupil dilates.

No matter how bright or dim it is outside, your pupils should always be symmetrical. If one is suddenly quite large and the other is normal, you should go to the emergency room right away. This could indicate an aneurysm or another serious brain disease.

Floaters accompanied by flashes of light  

Eye floaters are a fact of life. They’re a result of age-related changes that occur within your vitreous, the gel-like substance that fills your eyeball.

But if you suddenly notice a new set of floaters that differ from ones you’ve had before, especially when accompanied by flashes of light or obscured vision, you should go to an ophthalmologist immediately because you may have torn your retina.

As your vitreous ages, it becomes more liquid-y and, through that process, can tug on the retina. If your retina is weak, you can get a tear.

“Most of the time, a retina tear is spontaneous and not a result of injury,” says Olmos de Koo.

Eye care and prevention 

Even if you’ve never experienced symptoms like these, don’t underestimate the importance of routine care for your eyes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends a routine eye check by an ophthalmologist by age 40 (even if you’re one of the lucky ones without glasses or contact). Over age 40, you should get an eye exam every two to four years.

If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other health issues, you’ll want to visit an ophthalmologist more frequently. An ophthalmologist can discern the health of your eyes and the quality of your vision, as well as spot other health problems that show up in your eyes, too.

“We’ve all heard the saying, ‘Your eyes are a window to your soul,’” says Olmos de Koo. “What most people haven’t heard before is that they’re a window into your overall health, too.”

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