Eyes are buffeted by countless irritants, including wind, smoke, dust, sun and even bacteria and viruses, which can lead to eye strain or eye ailments. Here are some ways that you can protect them.
• Wear glasses to protect your eyes against direct sunlight, wind or dust.
• Reduce or avoid drafts and don’t spend long periods in indoor areas with high humidity. Dampness and mold can cause cyc irritation.
• Use an adjustable reading lamp with a wide emission angle for reading.
• Get plenty of sleep at night, and strengthen your body’s defenses with relaxation, exercise and nutritious food.
WHEN TO CONSULT A DOCTOR When the layer between the eyelid and eyeball, the conjunctiva, becomes inflamed, the result is itchy, red and watery eyes. If the cause of the irritation is a viral or bacterial infection, the ailment is highly contagious, so it is important to consult a doctor or pharmacist immediately.
• You can help by keeping your eyes clean. Carefully remove the discharge caused by the inflammation several times a day with a cotton ball soaked in distilled water.
- Soothe with compresses After cleansing, soothe inflamed eyes with eyebright (Euphrasia) compresses. Check with your healthcare professional first.
- Pour 1 cup (250 ml) boiling water over 1 teaspoon (5 ml) dried eyebright flowers.
- Let the mixture steep for 2 minutes before straining the liquid.
- When the liquid is just lukewarm, soak two sterile gauze pads in it and apply them to your eyes for several minutes.
Windburn or barbecuing can leave you with red, burning eyes. But don’t rub irritated eyes—you might make them worse.
• Apply cucumber slices. They not only help with swollen eyelids, but also with reddened eyes.
Since swelling results from a buildup of tissue fluid in the eyelid, anything cold can help soothe the inflammation by contracting the blood vessels and stimulating circulation.
• Spoon a little cold, plain yogurt on a cloth to make a poultice and place it over closed eyes for 15 minutes. Try not to get any in your eyes.
• Apply slices of cold cucumber to your eyelids for 10 minutes.
• Apply a cold pack to swollen eyelids. Crushed ice in a cloth works just as well, as does a metal spoon cooled in the refrigerator (not in the freezer) and laid carefully on your eyelids.
Tired, Strained Eyes
Long hours at the computer, poor lighting, lack of sleep—all of these things can result in eye strain, the symptoms of which include burning, itching and watery eyes.
• For relief, rub your hands together until they arc warm and place them gently over closed eyes.
• Make sure that you blink frequently—this should happen unconsciously about 13 times a minute but people tend to blink less when using a computer. Blinking spreads a tear film over the eyes that clears away dust and dirt particles. It also keeps eyes moist.
• Try this natural remedy: Dampen a clean cloth with freshly boiled, warm water. Place the cloth over your eyes and leave for 15 minutes. Throw the cloth away after using.
The most common cause of that angry looking pustule on the edge of your eyelid is bacteria. You should never squeeze a stye, as you risk causing a severe infection. However, with a little help from heat and a compress you may be able to bring it to a head so that the pustule opens on its own.
• Use infrared light to hasten the ripening of a stye.
• Dampen a clean cloth with freshly boiled warm water. Leave the cloth over your eye for 15 minutes. Throw the cloth away after using.
As people get older, their eyes tend to produce less moisturizing tear fluid and even the fluid itself is less rich in oils so they can’t lubricate the eye as well. Eyes may feel itchy and gritty at times.
• One over the counter solution is artificial tears but your eyes will also benefit from a healthy diet that contains walnuts, oily fish and other sources of omega 3 fats.
• If you suffer from dry eyes, it is also best to avoid smoky atmospheres, air conditioned rooms and too much sunlight or wind. Blink frequently and take regular breaks from close up work such as reading, sewing or working at a computer.