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Health & Wellbeing / Claire Blackmore

The Body Experts: Everything You NTK About Eye Health

Protecting our sight and keeping peepers healthy should be a top priority – it goes without saying that our eyes are super-precious, right? They can also reveal a lot about your general health and wellbeing.

Today we hear more about some common eye conditions from Specsavers optometrist, Dr Josie Forte, who suggests getting regular eye tests – once or twice a year, to keep eyes healthy.

Dry eyes

Anyone can be affected by dry eye syndrome and it often occurs due to reduced tear production by the lacrimal gland near the eye. Tears are important for eye health as they keep eyes lubricated, protect against infections and clear away debris.

What to look for:

  •   Feelings of dryness, grittiness or soreness that get worse during the day
  •   Red eyes
  •   Eyelids that stick together when you wake up
  •   Temporarily blurred vision

If you have any of these symptoms, an optometrist will be able to suggest several different ways to help from lifestyle changes through to advice on various ocular lubricants available.

Conjunctivitis

This is a condition that causes inflammation of the thin layer of tissue – the conjunctiva – that covers the front of the eye and inner surfaces of the eyelids. It can affect one or both eyes.

There are three main causes of conjunctivitis – infection, allergic reaction or the presence of an irritant. The cause determines your symptoms and therefore your treatment.

What to look for:

  •   Pink, bloodshot or puffy appearance
  •   Burning or gritty sensation
  •   Itchiness
  •   Sticky or crusty eyelashes

Most cases of conjunctivitis will resolve on their own, however, if the condition has not cleared in around ten days, or if there are other symptoms such as pain for example, you should get checked out to rule out other conditions that may be the cause.

Eye twitches

It’s easy to recognise the signs of eye twitching. An eyelid twitch usually feels like a flickering, quivering or gentle tug of the eyelid. It can occur at any time, usually coming and going on its own.

It may be that it goes away after one episode, but it can also come and go for days or even weeks. If you are experiencing eye twitching for a prolonged period, an appointment with your optometrist is recommended to investigate further for other more unusual underlying causes.

Floaters

Floaters are very common and not usually something to worry about. Often, they sink out of your vision before they become really bothersome.

Floaters usually appear as black or translucent spots or strings, and you can see something ‘float’ across your vision. They’re most noticeable when looking at a plain background.

Sometimes, new floaters and flashing lights can be an indication of a retinal detachment, a potentially serious and sight threatening condition. If you notice new floaters, flashing lights or both, it’s very important that you see an optometrist straight away.

Styes

A stye is a small, painful lump which develops on the inside or outside of the eyelid, caused when bacteria find a way into one of the little glands that help to keep the eye moist and causes an infection.

You’ll usually only get a stye in one eye but it is possible to have them in both. They’re very common and typically nothing to worry about, generally clearing up on their own.  

What to look for:

  •   Small bump on the inside or outside of the eyelid
  •   Swollen, red eyelid
  •   Feels painful or tender, especially when you blink

You should avoid wearing contact lenses and eye makeup and don’t try to pop the stye as this can spread the infection. If the stye is not resolving, there are other things which can help and an optometrist will be able to advise you as well as check for other more unusual underlying causes.

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