A stye of the eye can develop as tiny glands in the edges of the eyelids known as sebaceous glands become infected. It commonly affects children but can develop in anyone of any age. If an oil gland around the same area has become blocked causing fluid to build up, an infection can also develop causing a stye. The infection responsible for styes is most commonly caused by the staphylococcal bacteria, found in the nasal cavity, so the germs can easily be transferred simply by rubbing the eyes. Most experts agree that stress, hydration and nutrition can also be contributing factors to their occurrence.
Treatment of Styes
Cleaning the affected eye regularly, using a soaked flannel or cotton pad dipped in warm water, will help remove some of the buildup of pus. Gradually pus and fluids imbedded deeper in the affected area will be drawn out. Cool compresses and pain relief may help before and after cleansing if discomfort levels are high. As a stye is caused by a bacterial infection it may be necessary to go to your GP if the problem persists. However most styes do heal on their own especially if plenty of water, fruit and vegetables are consumed in the diet..
Do not be tempted to try and burst the stye as this can be very painful and cause further infections to develop
Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome, or dry eye disease, occurs when the eyes do not make enough tears, or the tears evaporate too quickly because the oil glands are blocked or abnormal.
This leads to the eyes drying out and becoming inflamed (red and swollen) and irritated. The condition is also known as dry eyes or keratoconjunctivitis sicca. The symptoms of dry eye syndrome can be mild or severe. They include:
- dry or sore eyes
- blurred vision
- the feeling of something in your eye
Dry eye syndrome can have a number of causes, including:
- being in a hot or windy climate
- certain chronic diseases
- side effects of medicines
- hormonal changes
- getting older (up to a third of people aged 65 or older may have dry eye syndrome)Dry eye syndrome is not usually a serious condition, unless it is due to inflammation or certain diseases where there is an overactive immune system. Steps can be taken to relieve the symptoms, including:
- treating the underlying cause
- using ocular lubricant eye drops
- wearing specialised eyewear
See your GP if you experience any of these symptoms. They may examine you for other conditions or may refer you to an optometrist for further tests.
If you have blurred vision that happens suddenly and persists, consider this an emergency. See your eye doctor, or visit an emergency room/GP
If one eye becomes blurry or goes dark suddenly, like a curtain coming down, this is an emergency and should be checked out by your eye doctor or an emergency room/GP. This could indicate a retinal problem, like a detachment, or even a stroke.
If you have some minor blurring that comes and goes, this could mean tiredness, dryness or eye strain. Keep in mind that many eye conditions can cause some blurred vision, including pink eye, allergies, dry eyes and even a lot of near vision work. Most of these are not emergency situations.
Quick Tip: For mild blurry vision, try resting your eyes. If the blurry vision persists, make an appointment for an eye exam.
Unusual puffiness around the eyes often is a sign of an allergy. Of course, trauma such as getting hit in the eye also can cause eyes to swell.
Quick Tip: If puffy eyes are caused by an allergy, you may have to take an over-the-counter decongestant orally to alleviate symptoms.
Foreign Object (Something in the Eye)
Getting something in your eye seems like it should be an emergency, and it often is. Whether your eye is invaded by a piece of metal, a thorn or sticker or a sharp object, it’s critical that you see an eye doctor or an emergency room/urgent care center right away.
Don’t rub your eye or attempt to remove whatever is in there. You could cause more damage. Loosely tape a paper cup (or eye shield if you have one) over your eye and seek help.
Quick Tip: Let’s also be practical. Not everything that gets in your eye is serious. We all have little bits of something in our eyes at times. If you know it’s just a piece of dust that’s irritating your eye, you can try rinsing it with saline solution or using lubricating eye drops. If you are able, try turning your eyelid inside out to see if you can dislodge the particle. If none of these home remedies works, then it’s off to the doctor.
Spots, Flashes and Floaters
Most spots and floaters are normal. They are caused by bits of protein and other tissue embedded in the clear, gel-like material (vitreous) that fills the inside of the eye.
As we age, the vitreous becomes more fluid and these thread-like strands and shapes move (“float”) more easily within the vitreous, which makes them more noticeable. Also, the vitreous can separate or detach from its connection to the retina, causing additional floaters.
But some floaters, especially when accompanied by flashes of light, can indicate something serious is happening inside your eye that could cause a detached retina.
As a general rule, if you have a few little dots, threads or “bugs” that come and go depending on how tired you are or what kind of lighting you’re in, these are normal floaters. But if you suddenly see flashes of light, clouds of floaters, swirly mists or a curtain over part of your vision, it’s best to see your eye doctor or an emergency room/urgent care center. They’ll dilate your pupils to see what’s going on inside your eyes and make sure it gets treated if need be.
Most retinal detachments can be helped if treated soon. If retinal detachments are ignored, however, they can lead to a loss of vision or even blindness.
Quick Tip: Most vitreous detachments creating spots and floaters just need to be watched. But you have no way of knowing whether you have a vitreous detachment or a far more serious retinal detachment. So in either case, make sure you see a doctor.