Got Red Eyes?
CONJUNCTIVITIS is the term used to describe swelling of the conjunctiva — the thin, filmy membrane that covers the inside of your eyelids and the white part of your eye (known as the sclera). This condition is commonly known as "pink eye".  Signs of pink eye may occur in one or both eyes.  There are three types of conjunctivitis: 

Bacterial conjunctivitis
This is a highly contagious form of pink eye caused by bacterial infections. This type of conjunctivitis usually causes a red eye with a lot of pus. 

Viral conjunctivitis
The most common cause of pink eye is the same virus that causes the common cold, and is also highly contagious.  A watery mucous is the common discharge in this form of conjunctivitis.

Allergic conjunctivitis
This form of conjunctivitis is caused by a reaction to an allergen or irritant.  The main symptom is itching.  It is not contagious.  

Spread by:
  • Direct contact with an infected individual's secretions, usually through hand-to-eye contact
  • Spread of the infection from bacteria living in the person's own nose/sinus
  • Not cleaning contact lenses properly and using poorly fitting contact lenses or decorative contacts.
  • Children who return to school or daycare before their conjunctivitis has cleared risk spreading the infection.

Prevented by:
  • Wash your hands often. This includes all the people in contact with the infected person.
  • Avoid touching your eyes.
  • Make sure to avoid reusing towels, washcloths, handkerchiefs and tissues to wipe your face/eyes.
  • Change your pillowcase frequently.

Eye allergies affect one in five Americans. Though the symptoms they cause can be annoying -- not to mention unattractive-- they don’t pose much threat to eyesight other than temporary blurriness. But red, itchy, burning, and puffy eyes can be caused also by infections and other conditions that do threaten eyesight. So, it's smart to see your doctor if eye symptoms don't get better with self-help strategies or over-the-counter allergy remedies.

There are two types of eye allergies: seasonal, which are more common, and perennial.

Seasonal allergies happen only at certain times of the year—usually early spring through summer and into autumn. They’re caused by exposure to allergens in the air, commonly pollen from grasses, trees, and weeds, as well as spores from molds.

Perennial allergies occur throughout the year. They’re caused mostly by exposure to dust mites, feathers (as in bedding) and animal (pet) dander. Other substances, including perfumes, smoke, chlorine, air pollution, cosmetics, and certain medicines, can also play a role.

Dry Eye
Dry-eye sufferers often feel they feel like they cannot keep their eyes open for very long. They may also find their eyes feel more uncomfortable after reading or watching television.

Dry eye symptoms include:
  • Stinging or burning eyes
  • Scratchiness
  • Stringy mucus in or around the eyes
  • Excessive eye irritation from smoke or wind
  • Excessive tearing
  • Discomfort when wearing contact lenses
Artificial tears eyedrops are similar to your own tears. They lubricate the eyes and help maintain moisture.  There are many brands available without a prescription, so you may want to try several to find the one you like best.  You can use the artificial tears as often as needed — however, if you need to use them more than every two hours, preservative-free brands may be better for you.

If you are bothered by dry eye, talk with your eye doctor about ways to find relief, through either drops, punctal plugs, or medication.
Digital Eye Strain  

How many hours are you logged on to your computer, tablet, or smartphone each day? If you’re like most  Americans, it’s probably a lot! From computer-dependent jobs, to surfing the net, to watching TV,  our eyes are focused on screens much of the day. Digital eyestrain is the most common workplace complaint today. In fact, nearly 90 percent of people who work on a computer 3 hours a day or more suffer from eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome.

Signs of Digital Eye Strain
  • Blurred vision. It tops the list. When you shift your focus from the computer screen to things farther away, you could notice  blurred vision or a delay in refocusing your eyes.
  • Dry eyes. If you feel like there’s something in your eyes you just can’t get rid of, or burning, stinging and inflammation, your eyes are probably dry.
  • Eye strain. Eye discomfort that makes you squint or frown when you’re at the computer could be eyestrain.
  • Glare sensitivity. If your monitor is too dark or bright, your eyes are working harder to see it and can get tired.
  • Headaches — could be a sign you have computer eye strain.
  • Neck and shoulder pain. Like eyestrain, other bodily aches could signal ergonomic problems in your workstation.

If these symptoms affect you, talk to your eye doctor.  Your eye doctor can recommend solutions such as adjustments to your office environment, special eyewear, eye drops, or a combination.   Also, a comprehensive eye exam may reveal that your computer vision problems are related to a different condition that needs treatment.

Ways to minimize the impact of digital eye strain:

  • Blink!  It washes your eyes in naturally therapeutic tears.
  • Practice the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Keep the light right. Keep bright overhead light to a minimum. Keep your desk lamp shining on your desk, not you. Try to keep window light off to the side, instead of  in front or behind you. Use blinds and get a glare screen. Position the computer screen to reduce reflections from windows or overhead lights.
  • Monitor your monitor. Keep it at least 20 inches from your eyes (an arm’s length away). Adjust the screen so you look at it slightly downward and adjust brightness and contrast to comfortable levels.
  • Wear computer specs. Your doctor can prescribe a pair of glasses designed for working at a computer and even digital devices like your tablet and smartphone.
  • Talk to your eye doctor. Get your eyes examined every year and talk about any symptoms you are experiencing.