As a former surgical ophthalmic technician, I saw a lot of issues that most people should never see, which is why I am passionate about eye infection prevention, and you should be, too. An eye infection can start mild and lead to devastating issues.
You have probably heard the term pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis. You may have experienced it yourself. A fungal, bacterial, or viral infection of the eye will cause the white part of the eye to appear red or pink. Pink eye can be uncomfortable, but thankfully, it rarely affects vision. However, if left untreated and without certain precautions, major complications can spread quickly.
Although they can be very contagious, preventing an eye infection isn't as difficult as you may think. A lot of it comes down to common sense. As simple as they may seem, each of our ten tips to avoid an eye infection is vital to reduce the risk of complications, recurring eye infections, and spreading the disease.
I know your parents told you that sharing is caring, but this is not the case when trying to prevent an eye infection. Sharing things like eye makeup, pillowcases, towels, and anything that encounters your eyes is a big no-no!
Your hands carry germs that can easily infect your eyes. Never touch your eyes without washing your hands first. If you wear contact lenses, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. Also, make-up brushes are notorious for harboring bacteria. Wash brushes by soaking them in hot, soapy water, rinse completely, and let them air dry.
Speaking of contact lenses, when you had your first fitting, I'm sure you were told the proper way to clean and store your lenses. Don't skimp on this! Always make sure that your lenses and storage case are clean and disinfected.
Don't overwear them! Just... DON'T! Remember when I said that as a former surgical ophthalmic technician, I saw things that most people shouldn't see? I saw more corneal abrasions and infections due to overwearing contact lenses than you could imagine. If you have never had a corneal abrasion, just witnessing someone going through the agony would scare anyone enough to never wear contact lenses for too long or sleep in lenses not designed for long-term wear.
If you wear makeup, I'm sure there has been a time or two when you were so tired that you wanted to skip the makeup removal regimen and sleep. Taking that extra few minutes to remove your eye makeup will help you avoid eye infections and other issues that most people don't think about, like blepharitis. This infection causes eyelid inflammation and can last for months or even years.
Did you know you could get a corneal abrasion just by blinking? If you have ever felt that your eyes feel dry, talk to your eye doctor. Dry eye syndrome can cause all sorts of issues that you don't want. There are many over-the-counter lubricating eye drops, but recently, there have been quality control issues. Don't ever use drops without asking an ophthalmologist for their advice.
As important as it is for our bodies to be well-hydrated, our eyes need that hydration too. Most health professionals will tell you that the 8 x 8 rule (8 glasses of 8 ounces) is a great way to remember that you’re getting enough water. Drink water regularly throughout the day for your body, and skin and to maintain eye health.
Whether you wear corrective lenses or not, you should own at least one pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays, dirt, dust, etc. Only open your eyes underwater with goggles or a swim mask when swimming. There is a lot of stuff floating around in the ocean, lake, and pools, like bacteria and chemicals that shouldn't be anywhere near your eyes.
Keep your eyes healthy with vitamins A, C, and E and omega-3 fatty acids. You may have heard that carrots are good for your eyes, and what you heard is true...sort of. While carrots won't improve your vision, they are a good source of beta-carotene (vitamin A), which our eyes need for good health. Leafy greens, citrus fruits, carrots, and fatty fish are good additions to an eye-healthy diet.
If there is one pun that can save you from potential issues, it's that one right there! Seriously, though, what is more important than your eyes? If you had to lose one of your senses, I'll bet your vision would be last on your list. Your ophthalmologist can keep your eyes healthy and prevent small issues from becoming huge problems. Have your eyes checked annually.
Following these tips will help you to avoid an eye infection or prevent one from becoming worse or spreading. Always consult a medical professional as soon as possible if you experience problems like redness, swelling, discharge, or pain.
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Linda Guerrera is the Digital Content Manager for Health Products For You. As an award-winning media professional, she has spent her entire career as on on-air radio personality, program director, voice-over artist ...
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