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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Preventing and recognizing a lazy eye

Childhood is a time of rapid growth and change for the entire body, particularly for the eyes. A person’s sight undergoes critical developments in the early years, meaning parents must be extra-vigilant about their child’s eyesight during this time. One issue that can arise in young children is known as amblyopia – or “lazy eye.” In this case, one eye is strong while the other is weak, creating a harmful imbalance. EyeCare America recommends that parents get their child’s eyes checked by age four because early treatment is the most effective.

Children who are treated before the age of nine are generally able to have better-restored vision than those who wait until their teenage years. It’s important to get the opinion of an ophthalmologist because it’s hard to detect a lazy eye (even the child may be unaware she has a problem). If an imbalance is detected, the eye doctor may recommend one of several treatments, most of which are geared toward building strength in the weak eye. This may be done by having the child wear an eye patch over her good eye or even using drops to blur vision in her good eye. Both of these methods force the child to use her weak eye in order to regain strength and balance.

While perhaps difficult at first, the payoff will be a lifetime of good vision. If you suspect your child may have a lazy eye, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your eye doctor. It’s always a good idea to get regular check-ups, and in case of a problem, your doctor can begin treatments early and effectively.

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.

Protect your child’s vision by limiting exposure to dangerous household items

It’s easy to forget that even the most mundane of household supplies – like paper clips – can be dangerous to a small child. This is especially true when it comes to vision, and there are a lot of common items that could be hazardous to the eyes of your young children. The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests that parents always supervise activities that involve pencils, scissors and forks, as these items have sharp ends that could accidentally come in contact with an eye.

It’s also important to be vigilant about common supplies like coat hangers, rubber bands and fish hooks. Very young children do not have complete control over their motor skills and are more prone to accidentally poking themselves while exploring a new item. It almost goes without saying that children should also not be permitted to play with BB guns, darts, and similar objects that could easily cause harm.

The same should be said about cleaning sprays and chemicals that could come in contact with the eye if a child gains access to cabinets or closets. Even as children get older, steps must be taken to protect their vision from activities like sports, so talk to your eye doctor about your child’s routine. He or she can give you tips about protective eyewear that will allow your child to enjoy the activities he likes without worrying about constant hazards.