Eye dryness can result in blurry vision and discomfort, making it hard to get through your day. You may feel like there is something sandy or gritty in your eye, and you may experience a burning sensation or eye fatigue. Failing to address eye dryness can result in corneal abrasions and infections, so don’t ignore this symptom. Work with your eye doctor to determine the most likely cause of your eye dryness.
There are many possible causes of eye dryness; here’s a look at some of the most common ones.
→ Read more
Nothing is as irritating as an itch you can’t scratch. Itchy eyes can often lead people to do some pretty risky things to find relief. However, too much rubbing, flushing, poking, and prodding can make a bad problem worse.
So what causes itchy eyes, and what you can do to stop the itching? Here’s what you need to know about itchy eyes.
Finding the Mote in the Eye
Why do your eyes even itch in the first place? The most common causes of eye itching are:
Allergies are by far the most frequent reason for itchy eyes. Usually, these allergies are seasonal. Pollen, hay, flowers, cut grass, and pollution can all increase itching.
Sometimes, eye itching can be caused by products you wear. Your eyes can be sensitive to some types of makeup, especially mascara and eye liner. Perfumes with high alcohol content and even some heavily fragrant hair styling products can make your eyes itchy.
You’re familiar with the feeling of having an eyelash in your eye. Sometimes itching is caused by a similarly small foreign object like part of a leaf, a grain of sand, or even dirt and sweat from working outside.
Not all itching is because of allergies or eyelashes. Itching can be a symptom of another more serious eye problem, like dry eye syndrome, meibomian gland dysfunction, or blepharitis.
- Contact lenses. Some people are more sensitive to contact lenses. Improperly cleaned, poorly fitted, or overused contacts can all contribute to increased itching.
If itching persists, care for itching eyes properly and discover the underlying cause.
Rubbing the Wrong Way
It’s your first impulse to rub your eyes when they are itchy. It gives you the relief you’re looking for. But, after the rubbing stops, the itch returns fiercer than ever. So, you keep rubbing. In some cases, you might even pull on your eyelids or touch the white of your eye itself to make the itching stop. None of these tactics are effective, and they can be dangerous for the following reasons:
Rubbing increases dark circles under your eyes.
When you rub, you actually damage the delicate blood vessels in and around your eyes. Dark circles become more pronounced as literal bruises form below your eyes from constant rubbing.
Touching or rubbing your eye increases the chances of infection.
Your hands carry thousands of germs. Unless you take special care to wash your hands before you ever rub them—most people don’t—you risk developing conjunctivitis or another infection as a result of touching your eyes with harmful germs.
Foreign objects can scratch the cornea, which is both painful and damaging.
If you rub your eye when you have a grain of sand or dust in your eye, you grind the object into the cornea. Scratches to the cornea are very uncomfortable, and your discomfort will increase as you keep rubbing.
Rubbing increases eye pressure.
For those who already have pressure-related eye diseases, like glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy, increased pressure from rubbing can actually accelerate the progression of the disease or burst blood vessels in the eye, causing scarring and reduced vision over time.
Rubbing is linked to the development of keratoconus.
Keratoconus is a condition where the cornea changes shape from gently round to conical. Vision becomes distorted, and your eyes become more sensitive to light.
If you have one-time itch from something in your eye, get a friend or family member to flush your eye with saline or artificial tears. If the itchiness persists, see a doctor for more vigorous flushing and for the removal of foreign objects.
Going Easy on the Eyes
If you have itching from allergies or experience itching for an unknown cause, see an ophthalmologist for diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions. The best way to manage chronic itching is to receive treatment for the underlying cause.
For example, when you have meibomian gland dysfunction, your meibomian glands don’t secrete enough lubricating oil and tears for your eyes. Treatments include gland probing to help break up blockages in the gland and special eye drops to replace lost lubrication. Other procedures, like LipiFlow, heat the gland to help the flow of oil and tears, clearing the gland.
Other simple solutions for temporary eye itching due to allergies and irritation from makeup include:
Removing your makeup thoroughly each day.
Wearing eye makeup for extended periods of time can contribute to itching, especially after sleeping.
Changing your contact lenses as needed.
Choose glasses if your eyes need a rest from wearing contact lenses.
Using a warm washcloth to soothe irritated eyes.
Lay on your back and place a clean, damp washcloth over your eyes. It will help your eyes relax.
Washing your hand before applying makeup or contact lenses.
Some eye itching can be prevented by basic hygiene.
For more information about diagnosing and treating itchy eyes, contact the team at Country Hills Eye Center. And remember: don’t rub!
Beauty regimens have been around for thousands of years, but there has never been so many products available as there are now. Eye makeup and similar cosmetic enhancements are usually safe. However, there are some risks associated with makeup and eye treatments that you should be aware of.
Here’s what you need to know about keeping your eyes as safe as possible when choosing and using beauty products.
Keep Your Makeup Fresh
If you only wear eye makeup every once in a while, you’ll be dismayed to learn that mascara and eyeliner should be regularly replaced. Keeping makeup past its intended shelf life can cause clumping, bacteria growth, and separation in the product, making it more potentially harmful to your eye.
Never use dried out mascara, and do not rehydrate it with saliva or even tap water from your bathroom sink. If you’re only an occasional makeup wearer, buy mascara and eyeliner in sample sizes to make it more likely you’ll use the products before they expire.
To make your mascara stay moist and bacteria free, don’t pump the brush up and down when loading it with product. This aerates the mascara, making it dry out faster, and it pushes bacteria from the rim down into the container.
Avoid Sharing Products
If you and some friends are getting ready together for a night out, don’t share makeup — especially mascara brushes and eyeliner. You don’t want to introduce harmful bacteria to your eye by using some else’s brush.
You don’t know your friends’ eye health histories. Eye infections, illnesses, and other viruses that pass through mucus membranes are stored in mascara tubes and brushes. When you contract an illness or condition, like pink eye or a sty, you should also toss your own tainted makeup and replace it with fresh product to prevent reinfection.
A big beauty trend becoming ever more popular is eyelash extensions. There is usually little danger in choosing to place artificial hairs onto your own lashes for a special occasion. But there are some risks in the type of adhesive used, the technique, and the frequency. You should always choose a licensed esthetician to apply eyelash extensions.
The risks of frequent eyelash extensions are:
- Allergic reactions. Allergies can build over time, so you can have a violent reaction to eyelash extensions, even if you have not experienced one before.
- Loss of real eyelashes. The extra weight of eyelash extensions can damage the hair follicle, thinning your natural lashes if you choose frequent extensions in a short period of time.
- Dry eyes. Eye lashes normally protect the eye from dirt and debris without any increased harm to the eye. Longer, thicker lashes act like a fan that dries the eyes as it moves more air over the eye surface. They can also be so long that they trap dirt instead of repelling it.
- Punctures or scratches. While rarer, there is always the chance of human error when someone is working close to the eye. It only take a single slip to injure the soft tissue on the surface of or surrounding the eye.
If you have concerns about getting extensions, talk to your eye doctor. They can provide you with the most information on safest and best beauty practices.
Stop Dangerous Behavior
There are some dangerous behaviors that significantly increase your chances of injuring your eyes when using makeup. These include:
- Applying makeup in the car, even when you are not driving. Applying while driving increases your chances of collision, but even when you’re not driving, a sudden stop can mean you brush your eye instead of your eyelashes. Eye pencils are especially dangerous. If you were to get into a car accident while applying eyeliner, the force of the motion could mean you impale your eye. Never apply makeup in a moving vehicle.
- Neglecting to wash your hands before using eye makeup. You wash your hands before you eat and after you flush, and you should apply the same behavior to applying makeup, especially if you use your fingers to apply eye shadow.
- Removing contacts before cleaning your eyes. Never try to wash makeup off before
removing contacts. This can drive particles into your eye, trapping them under the contact. You’ll also damage your contacts.
Stay safe by using common sense. A steady, clean hand is essential to keeping your eyes healthy.
Stay Away From Cosmetic Contacts
Contacts designed to make the eyes look larger (circle contacts) are becoming increasingly popular. These can be ordered at any prescription strength without the consent of your doctor. It’s dangerous to avoid professional care. These contacts have not been approved by FDA as safe for use.
Contacts designed to create larger eyes are potentially dangerous, especially when you don’t need contacts for vision correction. Medically necessary contacts are developed to maintain oxygen delivery to the eye. Unregulated circle contacts can deprive the eye of oxygen and lead to more dangerous injuries.
For more information about eye beauty trends and safety, contact us at Country Hills Eye Center.
You’ve probably heard of melanoma. It’s a cancer that affects the body’s pigment-producing cells, or melanocytes. Melanoma is seen most often in the skin, and it can prove fatal unless it’s caught early enough. However, melanoma does not just occur on the skin—it can also appear on the uvea, which is the pigmented layer of the eye.
Approximately 2,500 adults are diagnosed with ocular melanoma each year in the United States. Since the cancer can easily metastasize and affect tissues elsewhere in the body, it is very dangerous and tough to treat in its later stages. Though people with light-colored eyes and older adults are at a higher risk for the disease, it appears in individuals of every race and at every age. For this reason, it’s very important that you take steps to protect yourself.
Protecting yourself from ocular melanoma requires a three-pronged approach. First, you can modify your lifestyle to reduce your risk of ever developing the disease. Second, you must make sure that if you do develop the disease, it is detected as early as possible. Third, you need to be aware of the symptoms of the disease so you can act quickly if you suspect you may have ocular melanoma.
Reduce Your Risk
Many of the risk factors for ocular melanoma, like age and light-colored eyes, are non-modifiable. However, there are a few modifiable risk factors you can address to protect yourself.
Studies have not confirmed that UV exposure increases the risk of ocular melanoma, but many eye doctors and scientists believe this to be the case. To keep UV rays from reaching your eyes, wear good-quality sunglasses when you spend time outside. Look for models that block 100% of UV rays; the best place to buy them is from your eye doctor’s office since you can be confident you’re purchasing a reputable brand. Make sure your sunglasses are wide enough to block rays that come in from the sides.
The inverse relationship between physical activity and incidence of most every major cancer is well established. You don’t have to run marathons or bike across the country, but getting plenty of exercise on a regular basis will go a long way towards helping your body fend off serious conditions like ocular melanoma.
If you’re currently inactive, it’s not too late to change that. Start walking for just 10 minutes a day, and once you’re comfortable, start adding additional walking time to your routine until you’re walking for 30 minutes five days a week. This is a simple way to meet the CDC’s recommendation of two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week.
While there’s no miracle diet that will protect against ocular melanoma and other cancers, eating well can help reduce your risk. In general, try to limit your intake of processed foods, sugar, and alcohol, and reach for more whole, natural foods like vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.
Ensure Prompt Detection
Usually, patients with ocular melanoma don’t experience any symptoms until the tumor grows large enough to interfere with their vision. For this reason, it’s important to see your eye doctor for annual checkups. Visiting regularly increases your doctor’s chances of catching the tumor early enough that it can be treated.
As a part of your regular eye exam, your eye doctor looks into the back of your eye using a microscope. If he or she spots a tumor, he or she may order additional tests like an ultrasound or biopsy to determine whether it is a melanoma.
Be Aware of Symptoms
While regular eye exams ensure that most cases of ocular melanoma are caught early on, there are rare cases in which the tumor grows very quickly. In these cases, it may lead to symptoms before it’s detected by your eye doctor. It’s important to know what these symptoms are so you can seek care if you experience them:
- Fuzzy or blurry vision
- A shrinking visual field
- Bulging of the eye
- A feeling that you can’t move your eye normally
- Appearance of floaters or flashes of light in your visual field
- A dark spot on your iris
Many of these symptoms can also be caused by an array of other eye diseases, most of which are less serious than ocular melanoma. If you experience these symptoms, you don’t have to panic or assume you have cancer, but it’s still wise to make an appointment with your eye doctor just in case.
Treatment for ocular melanoma usually involves excising the tumor, often with a laser-based procedure, and then administering radiation therapy. If the cancer is caught early, your vision may be preserved and you may not experience tumors elsewhere in your body.
Wear your sunglasses, eat a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise, and make your annual appointment with your eye doctor. Ocular melanoma is a serious ailment, but with these measures, you can put up a fight against this often-deadly form of cancer.
Congratulations—you just decided to get your first pair of soft contact lenses. You probably feel excited, but also a little nervous. It might seem nerve-wracking to take a tiny object and place it in your eye every morning.
Don’t worry. Living with contacts might seem strange at first, but you’ll quickly get used to it. Soon, putting on and taking off your contacts will seem like a normal part of your daily routine.
How to Put Your Contacts In
Putting your contacts in your eyes for the first time can be tricky. When something comes close to your eyes, your eyes naturally blink to keep that object out. Even though you want your contacts to touch your eyes, your eyes might still blink rapidly when you first try to put your contacts in. With enough practice, you’ll train your eyes to get used to accepting your new contacts.
To place your contacts, just follow these steps:
- Wash your hands so you don’t get dirt from your hands on your contacts.
- Hold the contact lens for your right eye in your dominant hand. Squirt some contact lens solution on it to rinse off any debris.
- Put the lens on the tip of the index finger of your dominant hand. The contact lens should sit with the hollow side up. If the edges flare out, your contact is inside out and you’ll need to flip it to the right side. Some lenses have markers on them that will show you which is the correct side.
- To prevent blinking, hold your eyelids open with your other hand.
- Look up and keep your eye unfocused. Slowly move your finger toward your eye and place the lens in the center of your eye. Blink several times. Your contact should settle in place.
If your contact doesn’t settle in the center of your eye, remove it (see below for the removal process). Rinse it with contact solution, and then try to put it in again.
If your contact feels itchy or painful, remove it. If it has any tears or debris on it, throw it away and get a new contact.
Once your contact is successfully placed in your eye, repeat the process with your other eye.
When you’re first learning to put in contacts, there’s a tiny risk that your contact could get stuck behind your eyelid. If this happens, don’t panic. With a little time, your contact will eventually move down your eye to where you can pull it out.
Don’t worry if it takes a while to put in your contacts the first few times. Soon, it will become second nature and it will only take you a few minutes.
How to Take Your Contacts Out
Wear your contacts no longer than the amount of time your eye doctor suggests, which is usually about 16 hours a day. You should take your contacts off each night.
Follow these steps to safely remove your contacts:
- Wash your hands.
- Fill each side of your contact case with contact solution.
- Look up. Place the middle finger of your dominant hand under your right eyelid to pull your eyelid down.
- With the index finger of your dominant hand, touch your contact and slide it to the bottom of your eye.
- Use the thumb and index finger of the same hand to squeeze your contact and pull it out of your eye.
- Set the contact in the right side of your contact case and cover it with the lid.
- Repeat steps three through six with your left eye. Put the lens in the left side of your contact case.
Your contacts can stay in the case until you need them again in the morning. Always pour out the old solution and replace it with new solution before storing your contacts for the night.
How to Clean Your Contact Lenses and Case
If you have a “no rub” contact solution, your contact lenses should clean as they soak. However, you can take a few steps to help them stay even cleaner.
For instance, before putting in your contacts or after taking them out, simply rub each contact lens with a clean finger, and then rinse it with contact solution.
It’s also best to clean your case after each use. Just rinse it with contact lens solution, and then leave it empty and open to dry during the day. Replace your case every three months to prevent contamination.
Remember that you’ll need to switch out your contacts. Some types of contacts last longer than others. Check the recommendations on your contact box to know when to replace your contacts.
Just as with anything new, wearing and caring for contacts can seem overwhelming at first. If you have any questions, ask your eye doctor. If you live in the Salt Lake City area, the ophthalmologists at Country Hills Eye Center are here to help you adjust to wearing contacts.