How to Apply your eye drops correctly

It’s no secret that severely dry or irritated eyes can be very uncomfortable. In many cases, an eye doctor will prescribe eye drops to help soothe a patient’s eyes and relieve any pain or discomfort. Before your eyes can heal, however, you must know the proper way to apply these drops.  The Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following steps:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly.
  2. Remove the cap without touching the dropper tip.
  3. Tilting your head back slightly, use your index finger to gently pull your lower eye lid away from your eye to form a pocket.
  4. With your other hand, tilt the dropper over the pocket.
  5. While glancing upward, squeeze the bottle and release the correct number of drops into the pocket. Do not allow the bottle to touch either your eye or eyelid to avoid contamination.
  6. Once drops are in place, close your eyes without blinking.
  7. Apply pressure to “the point where your lids meet your nose” and hold for approximately two to three minutes, or as instructed by your eye doctor.
  8. Before opening your eyes, wipe any extraneous drops from your eye lid with a tissue.
  9. Open your eyes. If using more than one prescription, wait at least five minutes before applying the second dose.

The most important thing to remember is to follow your eye doctor’s instructions precisely. Ask an ophthalmologist on your discount vision plan if you have any questions regarding your use of eye drops or their possible side effects.

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Floaters in your vision

A lot of people joke about seeing stars, but many people actually do see shapes run across their field of vision. These shapes are technically called “floaters” and can vary in appearance from specks and dots to clouds and cobwebs. EyeCare America explains this phenomenon as “clumps and strands within the gel of the eye” that create shadows on a person’s retina. These shadows account for the varying shapes and are typically cast when a person is looking at a large, solid-colored object (like a wall).

Unfortunately, although some are harmless, floaters can occasionally indicate a serious problem with the eye, such as a torn retina. People who are middle-aged are especially prone to floaters, so be alert and talk to your doctor if you notice any changes in your vision. It’s important to get your eyes examined on a regular basis to treat and prevent conditions like floaters.

Should you wear contacts at work?

Certain professions may be more hazardous to your vision health than others. To help protect people involved in these environments, particularly industry jobs, the American Optometric Association released a statement in 1998 to provoke questions about vision hazards at work. The Association mandates that contact lenses themselves cannot and should not be used as protective eyewear. Other types of protection must be used (like goggles) to protect the eyes, whether a person wears contacts or not. In determining whether contact lenses present a risk in the workplace, the Association advises that people ask questions like, “Is the risk different for various contact lens materials and designs?” and “Do contact lenses decrease the efficacy of other safety strategies?

Doctors who prescribe contact lenses to patients involved in hazardous fields should also keep in mind certain factors, the Association says. For instance, a doctor should take into account what hygiene facilities are available, what raw materials are involved, whether protective equipment is provided and used, and what kinds of toxic chemicals/agents could be encountered on the job. In all, the Association found that “contact lenses may be worn safely under a variety of environmental situations including those which, from a superficial evaluation, might appear hazardous.”

Also, because there is no evidence to suggest that contact lenses negate the protection of safety equipment, the Association recommends that there be no ban on contact lenses in the workplace. This means you can feel confident about wearing your contact lenses to work, but be sensible when in hazardous environments, and never think of your contacts as protective eyewear.

Protecting your vision during a flood

Everyone knows that floods are responsible for significant damage to property and wildlife, but here’s another concern to add to the list: vision. During a flood, an increased amount of water-borne pathogens are released, creating a dangerous situation for people’s eyes – particularly those of contact-wearers. The American Optometric Association indicates that these pathogens can cause infection, or even loss of vision, in flood victims. If you find yourself forced to make contact with flood water, the AOA suggests you immediately remove contacts or wear goggles to protect your eyes. It’s also important to be ultra-vigilant about washing your hands before touching your eye and using approved sterile products to disinfect lenses.

Tap water should not be assumed clean or used to store contact lenses. If you are exposed to flood water, the AOA strongly recommends that you contact your eye doctor immediately if you notice symptoms such as: lasting red or irritated eyes; pain around the eyes; increased sensitivity to light; blurred vision; or excessive tearing. These conditions can have a long-term impact on your health and vision, so make sure you consult your optometrist if you feel threatened by a flood.

Uveitis and its treatments

Have you ever looked in the mirror and noticed that your eye was red and swollen? Most people tend to put in a few eye drops and forget about it, but it may be more serious than it appears. Uveitis is an irritation of the middle layer of the eye and is characterized by swelling, redness, pain and sensitivity to light. Some people will notice that their vision has become blurry or that they’re seeing spots. And while it is wise to try an initial treatment of eye drops to soothe the irritation, many cases require more treatment. An eye doctor can determine the severity of the problem and recommend stronger treatments like a shot or oral medicine.

Some people may even need surgery on their eye if the uveitis is paired with another serious condition, like glaucoma. EyeCare America suggests that uveitis may be caused by a parasite infection, or another illness somewhere in the body. In some cases no cause is ever found, but that does not reduce the critical nature of this condition. Left untreated, uveitis can scar the eye or even lead to blindness. Tell your eye doctor about any irritation you experience in the eye so that it can be cleared up at the first sign of redness or swelling. Problems with the eye often correspond with other bodily illnesses, so it’s wise to get your vision checked frequently by a professional.