COVID-19 Tips: Some Simple Eye Problems Can be Treated at Home

The National Eye Institute has designated July as Healthy Vision Month. The theme this year is Eye Health Is My Health. As noted in our post on pink eye and the coronavirus, during the pandemic, eye care providers have been somewhat limiting their practices.  Here are some common eye conditions that you may be able to treat safely at home.

test is healthy vision month. graphic is eye with heart inside

Stye

These pimple-like bumps appear along the eyelash line. A stye can look nasty and be painful but are harmless and will go away within a week. For a week, apply a warm washcloth on the affected eye three to four times a day, rewarming the cloth several times. The heat helps unblock the pores in your eyelash area and treats the discomfort. Don’t wear eye makeup or contact lenses while you have a stye. Never pop or squeeze the stye as this can spread infection to other areas of your eye.

Eye Strain

Many people may experience tired, dry, achy eyes from increased time on computers and other screens or long hours of reading during the stay-at-home orders. Here are simple things that ease eye strain:

  • Rest your eyes every hour by taking a break
  • Use artificial tears to keep eyes moist and blink often
  • Wear your corrective lenses as prescribed
  • Follow the “20-20-20” rule: Every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds
  • Use proper lighting and good posture while doing prolonged visual tasks

Dry Eyes

Your eyes need the right amount and composition of tears to function comfortably and maintain good vision. Tears are made of three different layers of liquid-each with its own role in keeping your eyes healthy. When your eyes cannot produce this healthy tear film, you have dry eyes. Here are the symptoms:

Causes for dry eyes include aging, diseases, and some medications. You may need the advice of your eye care professional to find the right treatment for you.

  • Stinging and burning
  • Blurred vision, especially when reading
  • scratchy or gritty feeling like something is in your eye.
  • strings of mucus in or around your eyes.
  • red or irritated looking especially when in the wind or near cigarette smoke
  • painful to wear contact lenses.
  • lots of tearing (eyes make more tears when they are irritated and dry)

Call your eye doctor for recommendations on over-the-counter artificial tears (lubricating eye drops with no other medications in them). Warm compresses on your eyes can help release oil in your eyelids’ glands and improve the quality of your tears. Carefully wash your eyelids daily with a clean washcloth, soap and warm water; then rinse your eyes thoroughly afterward.  Avoid wind, fans, and cigarette smoke. This will help until you can get a full evaluation.

Use Common Sense

 If any of these conditions worsen or don’t go away, call your eye doctor right away. Seek medical care immediately if you experience any of these:

  • Blurriness
  • Double vision
  • Loss of vision
  • Pain in the eye
  • A serious eye injury

If you do need to go to a doctor, eye care clinics follow strict hygiene and disinfection guidelines to keep you safe.

Resources

NEI Eight Things You Can Do to Protect Your Vision

AAO Eye Health and Coronavirus

AAO Home Remedy Tips

Dry Eye

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