Home Remedies for Simple Eye Problems
By: Roger M. Kaldawy, M.D.
Milford Franklin Eye Center
Many eye problems need an ophthalmologist’s medical knowledge. But there are eye problems that you can treat safely at home, as long as they are simple. Here are a few problems that can respond to home treatment, with tried-and-true remedies.
You can usually treat a black eye at home. But if there are more serious symptoms of black eye, see an ophthalmologist. These signs include: blurred/ double vision; blood in the eye; or an inability to move the eye.
To reduce swelling and ease pain the first day, apply an ice pack to the eye for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, once every hour. If you don’t have an ice pack, use a bag of frozen vegetables or ice cubes wrapped in cloth. The cloth protects your skin from freezing. Don’t put a raw steak or other raw meat on your eye. Despite what you’ve seen on television and in the movies, there’s no scientific basis for this. In fact, the bacteria in raw meat poses a high risk of infection.
Pink eye (also known as conjunctivitis)
A virus causes most cases of pink eye. These cases don’t respond to antibiotics. Viral conjunctivitis will disappear on its own. Have your ophthalmologist diagnose your particular case. Reduce the discomfort of conjunctivitis by applying cool compresses to the eye.
If your conjunctivitis is bacterial, follow your treatment plan. This usually involves antibiotic eye drops. In either case, you should take steps to reduce the chance of passing the problem on to someone else. Conjunctivitis is highly contagious. Follow these tips to prevent the spread: Don’t share towels, handkerchiefs or cosmetics. Change pillowcases frequently. Wash your hands often.
Eye allergy and seasonal allergy
Just as you can get nasal allergies, you can get eye allergies that leave your eye red, itchy and teary. Limiting your exposure to the source of your allergy — whether it’s pollen, pets or mold — can help relieve symptoms. If you can’t remove the source entirely, there are ways to reduce its effect with eye allergy treatments.
If pollen bothers you: Don’t use a window fan, which can draw pollen into your house. Wear sunglasses when you go outside.
If dust is the problem: Use allergen-reducing covers for your bed. Use artificial tears, which temporarily wash allergens from your eyes. Use over-the-counter anti-allergy eye drops to lessen the symptoms.
Stye (also called hordeolum)
While a stye may look nasty, it’s usually harmless and goes away within a week. You can treat it at home by running a washcloth under warm water, wringing it out and placing it over your closed eye. When the washcloth cools, repeat the process several times, up to four times a day for at least a week. The heat will help unblock the pores in your eyelash area. Don’t wear eye makeup or your contact lenses while you have a stye. And don’t pop or squeeze the stye. Doing so can spread infection to surrounding areas of your eye. Shampooing with tea tree shampoo can also help.
Many people have symptoms of eye strain, because of long hours of computer use, reading and driving every day. In most cases, there are simple things you can do at home, work, and while driving to ease eye strain symptoms. These include: resting your eyes, using artificial tears, wearing computer glasses, and wearing sunglasses.
Bags under the Eyes
What we often call “bags under our eyes” is actually sagging skin under the eyes. It is a common complaint, and one that often accompanies the aging process. As we grow older, tissues around the eye gradually weaken and sag. This loss of skin tone allows fat to shift forward into the lower eyelids, making them look puffy and swollen. Fluid can also pool in this area and contribute to the puffy appearance.
Certain home remedies can help lessen or eliminate the puffiness of under-eye bags and the appearance of shadows. Wet a clean washcloth with cool water. Place the damp washcloth around your eyes for a few minutes, applying very gentle pressure. Do this while sitting upright. Make sure you get enough sleep. Sleep with your head raised slightly. Try to avoid drinking fluids before bed, and limit salt in your diet. That can help reduce fluid retention overnight that can lead to bags under your eyes. Quit smoking. Try using makeup concealer to cover shadows under your eyes.
Use Common Sense for Your Eye Health
With any of these conditions, see your ophthalmologist right away if the symptoms worsen or don’t go away, or if your vision is affected.
Some eye problems you should never treat on your own.
If you experience any of these, you should seek medical attention right away: Blurriness. Double vision. Pain in your eye. Serious eye injuries.
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