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Year: 2014

Know How and When to Treat an Eye Infection

It’s that time of year again…coughs, sneezing, running noses and itchy, red eyes.  How do you know when an eye irritation is something that needs medical attention?

First of all, any time an eye infection is accompanied by fever, excessive discharge or pain, you should see your eye doctor immediately.  

The eyes are sensitive and there could be a number of factors that contribute to discomfort and irritation, some of which require medication. There are also some types of eye infections that are very contagious, which you want to treat as soon as possible.

Pink Eye

Pinkeye, also known as conjunctivitis, occurs when the conjunctiva, the thin membrane lining the eyelids and the whites of the eyes, becomes inflamed or swollen. The white part of the eye often also becomes red, thus the name, “Pink Eye”. 

Pinkeye is common among school-aged children because infectious pink-eye can be very contagious and spread quickly in classrooms, but it can occur at any age. The most common cause of pinkeye is a virus, although it can also be due to a bacterial infection or a non-infectious source such as allergies. One or both eyes may be affected. 

The symptoms and treatment for pink eye depend upon the type of pink eye you have.

Typically, bacterial pink eye, which can be treated by an antibiotic eye drops or ointment, is associated with burning, itchy eyes accompanied by a thick, yellow pus-like discharge that makes the eyes difficult to open upon awakening.  This must be treated by antibiotic according to the eye doctor’s instructions for a minimum of 5 days, to prevent bacterial resistance.  On occasion if the infection is not responding to topical medications, oral antibiotics may be used. 

Viral pink eye, which can’t be treated by antibiotics, usually runs its course between 1 and 3 weeks. It typically causes teary eyes, swollen lymph nodes and a lighter more translucent mucus discharge. Sometimes the eye symptoms come in conjunction with an upper respiratory infection or a cold.  Viral pink eye is extremely contagious.

Allergic pink eye is often characterized by redness, intense itching, and tears in both eyes and will usually respond to antihistamines, topical vasoconstrictors, or steroid eye drops (which should only be used with a doctor’s prescription).  Eye rubbing can aggravate the itching and swelling, so try to use cool compresses and allergy medication as prescribed.

Preservative-free artificial tears may also provide some relief.  

Any time pink eye symptoms do not improve after a few days, particularly if there is significant discharge, see your eye doctor. Make sure to clean the hands thoroughly after every encounter with the infected eye. 

Styes

Styes are inflamed oil glands or hair follicles on the eyelid (usually along the lash line or under the lid). The inflammation is caused by bacteria and results in a swollen, red and painful bump. Often styes will eventually go away on their own, but if they occur often, a doctor might prescribe topical or oral antibiotics or sometimes even drain it though a minor surgical procedure.  

Warm compresses can be used not only to ease the pressure and discomfort but also to open up the stye to facilitate healing. Styes are typically not contagious. 

Most eye infections are not dangerous but they can be quite uncomfortable.  If you have an eye infection make sure you take the proper steps to stay comfortable and prevent the infection from spreading to your loved ones.  

8 Tips to Beat Winter Dry Eyes

One of the most common patient complaints during the winter months is dry eyes. In the cooler climates, cold winds and dry air, coupled with dry indoor heating can be a recipe for eye discomfort. Dryness and irritation can be particularly debilitating for those who wear contact lenses or suffer from chronic dry eyes – a condition in which the eyes produce a low quality tear film.
Harsh weather conditions can reduce the natural moisture in your eyes and the irritation usually results in a burning or itching sensation that often leads to rubbing or scratching your eyes which can worsen the symptoms. Sometimes it feels like there is a foreign object in your eye and for some, dry eyes can even cause excessive tearing, as your eyes try to overcompensate for their lack of protective tears. Prolonged, untreated dry eyes can lead to blurred vision as well.
Whatever the symptoms, dry eyes can cause significant discomfort during the long winters and relief can seriously improve your quality of life.
Here are eight tips to keep your eyes comfortable during the harsh winter months:
  1. To keep eyes moist, apply artificial tears/eye drops a few times a day. If you have chronic dry eyes, speak to your eye doctor about the best product for your condition.
  2. Drink a lot of fluids – keeping your body hydrated will also help maintain the moisture in your eyes.
  3. If you spend a lot of time indoors in heated environments, use a humidifier to add some moisture back into the air.
  4. Try to situate yourself away from sources of heat, especially if they are blowing. While a nice cozy fire can add to the perfect winter evening, make sure to keep your distance so dry eyes don’t ruin it.
  5. Staring at a computer or digital device for extended amounts of time can further dry out your eyes. If you spend a lot of time staring at the screen, make sure you blink often and practice the 20/20/20 rule – every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  6. Don’t rub your eyes. This will only increase irritation and can also lead to infections if your hands are not clean.
  7. Give your eyes a break and break out your glasses. If your contact lenses are causing further irritation, take a break and wear your glasses for a few days. Also talk to your optometrist about switching to contacts that are better for dry eyes.
  8. Protect your eyes. If you know you are going to be venturing into harsh weather conditions, such as extreme cold or wind, make sure you wear protection. Try large, 100% UV protective eyeglasses and a hat with a visor to keep the wind and particles from getting near your eyes. If you are a winter sports enthusiast, make sure you wear well-fitted ski goggles.
If you find that after following these tips you continue to suffer, contact your eye doctor. It could be that your condition requires medical intervention.

“Eye” Am Home for the Holidays – 7 Eye Tips for College Students

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Winter break is in a few weeks and, with college students finding their way home for the holidays, it is a good time for parents to check in and make sure their independent kids are taking care of themselves properly.Vision plays a key role in learning as well as extra-curricular activities and college students in particular are susceptible to a host of eye and vision problems including injuries, infections and increased nearsightedness. Here are 7 tips for college students to keep their eyes and vision safe and healthy during the semester.

1) Wash your hands frequently.

College dorms and crowded classrooms can be a breeding ground for germs and bacteria, one of the most common of which is conjunctivitis or pink eye. To keep the germs away and stay healthy, wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water and try as much as possible not to touch your eyes

2) Take care of your contact lenses.

With the late nights and busy college life, it can be easy to get lax with contact lens care, but don’t. Always adhere to your eye doctor’s instructions for proper contact lens hygiene. Don’t sleep in your contacts if they’re not approved for extended wear, disinfect and store properly, only use contact lens solution and don’t swim or shower with your lenses in. In addition to causing dry eyes and irritation, improper care of lenses can result in serious infections and in the worst cases permanent scarring and vision loss.

3) Take a break.

Many hours of studying can take its toll on your and in today’s digital age, the results could be even more dramatic. Blue light from computers, tablets and mobile phones has been linked to vision complications and computer vision syndrome which can cause blurred vision, headaches and neck and shoulder pain. If you are working at a computer or in front of a screen for hours at a time, follow the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes take a break and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. If you spend most of your day on the computer consider purchasing a pair of computer glasses to lessen the effects of the screen on your eyes.

4) Get out.

Do yourself a favor and get outside regularly. Studies show that more than 50 percent of college graduates are nearsighted, with eyesight worsening with each school year. Further research has shown that spending more time outdoors can protect vision from getting worse.

5) Handle Makeup with Care.

Makeup, particularly liquid or creamy eye makeup, can be a breeding ground for infectious bacteria. Never share makeup with friends and if you get an eye infection throw away your makeup asap. A good rule of thumb is to replace all eye makeup every three months.

6) Use Eye Protection.

If sports are part of your college experience, make sure you are keeping your eyes safe with proper eye and vision gear. Protective, polycarbonate or trivex sports glasses, skiing and swim goggles can protect your eyes from scratches, bumps, bruises or worse.

7) Get a Yearly Eye Exam.

As mentioned above, it is common for college students to experience a decline in vision which could have an impact in and out of class. Get a yearly exam to make sure you can see your best and that your eyes in general are healthy. If you enjoy sitting at the back of the lecture hall, your eye checkup can ensure you have updated glasses or contact lenses at your optimal vision.

With all of the excitement of winter break, many college students find that their vacation flies by. Before the fun comes to an end, consider that winter vacation is the perfect time to schedule your yearly eye exam. You may even get a brand new pair of eyeglasses to spruce up your post vacation wardrobe.