The importance of maintaining eye hygiene

Typically when we think of the word hygiene we think of cleanliness, being germ free and overall sanitation.
There is oral hygiene that requires us to brush our teeth two times a day, floss along with annual dental visits, and there’s daily hygiene which includes bathing, the use of deodorant, frequent hand washing and generally a neat presentation. However, many of us forget about ocular hygiene and often overlook the fact that eye health and hygiene is as important as any other aspect of health. Many of us in the morning subconsciously just reach for our glasses or stumble into the bathroom to apply our contact lenses without actually washing hands or cleaning the lenses of our glasses with the sanitation spray. These small factors and good ocular hygiene habits can make all the difference between having healthy vision and eyes or developing bacterial, viral or fungal diseases.

In fact, the most common infections of the eyes are actually due to our lack of preventative care and carelessness. While most infections or inflammations are easily curable there are several that are fatal and can lead to severe diminished vision or complete blindness if not treated or caught in time.

Common eye diseases (that can be avoided with proper hygiene and prevention)

Styes

You run the risk of developing styes when you don’t wash your face thoroughly or you leave makeup on overnight. These are typically pimple-like red bumps which are caused by an infection in the oil glands at the edge of the eyelid. While styes normally resolve themselves and do not generally cause serious injury, chronic stye development can lead to scarring over time.

Bacterial keratitis

It is actually the infection of the eye at the cornea, a dome shaped window in front of the eye. The two main causes of developing a bacterial keratitis is improper contact lens usage or an eye injury.You risk getting an infection from contact lenses if you wear them too long or do not take care of them correctly. Proper care of your contacts will lower your risk of developing a corneal infection.

Corneal Abrasions

We often rub our eye without even thinking about the consequences, but this habit can result in corneal abrasions. These scratches on the clear “skin” that covers the iris and pupil are extremely painful due to the large number of nerve endings on the cornea. The injury can come from dirt on your hands or from aggravating a particle that is already inside your eye.

Apart from the exclusive eye diseases, improper eye hygiene can also contribute to a host of other diseases which are indirectly related to eye. Listed below are the diseases caused by eye hygienic. Click on each link to read in detail.

Signs and Symptoms to look out

If you experience any of the following symptoms you should visit your ophthalmologist as quickly as possible in order to administer treatment or further progression of the disease:

• Pain or discomfort
• Redness
• Itching
• Discharge of fluid
• Swelling of the eyelid
• Burning
• The feeling of a foreign particle in your eye
• Light sensitivity
• Floaters
• Halos in your vision
• Night blindness
• Sudden diminished vision

What causes eye diseases

The thing about eye disease is that we don’t really see it coming, but the outcome is devastating and we can’t help but fall prey to it.

Eye problems and diseases can be classified into 5 different groups:

  • Inflammation of the eye and surrounding eye structures caused by bacterial, viral, parasitic or fungal infection.
  • Injuries to the eye and surrounding eye structures, either as a result of trauma or an object in the eye.
  • Genetically inherited eye diseases, many of which may only manifest later in life (although some children are born with these conditions). Many of these affect the structures and the functioning of the eye and therefore can impair visual abilities.
  • Diseases or conditions, such as diabetes or migraine, which can affect other organ systems of the body, such as the eyes.
  • External causes, such as allergies or eye strain owing to over-use, or as a side effect of medication.

While we can’t really do anything about genetic eye problems, we could definitely take steps in lieu to eye hygiene and prevent diseases caused by bacterial or fungal infections. Most of eye diseases typically affects the outer layers of the eye including the cornea, conjunctive, occasionally and the iris. This later spreads to the other parts of the eye and gradually take toll of your eye health.

Prevention

Our eyesight is something we need to treasure and proper precautions and regular eye checks can definitely save the situation from worsening. While most of the bacterial and fungal infections are easily curable with topical antibiotics or oral antifungals, several of the diseases contracted in the eye can lead to diminished vision, partial blindness or even complete blindness. By following these simple steps and prevention methods we are ensuring healthy vision and eye hygiene.

Hygiene tips for glasses wearers:

• Use clean cloths when wiping your glasses lens
• Always leave your glasses facing up where the lens are not touching any surfaces
• Spray clean your glasses at least once a day
• Do not share your glasses with others
• Avoid touching the lens of your glasses with your hands, hold them by the frame

Hygiene tips for contacts lens users:

• Wash your hands before applying your contacts
• Always use the contact solution to make sure the contacts itself are clean
• Give your eyes a break from your contacts and wear glasses when possible
• Avoid sleeping in your contacts
• If your contacts are daily wear do not overextend their use
• Renew your contact prescription when needed
• Visit your optometrist or ophthalmologist yearly to check if your vision has changed

General hygiene habits for healthy eyes:

• Wash your hands frequently especially before touching your eyes
• Do not share glasses, or eye makeup between friends
• When bathing avoid shampoo and soap near and around the eyes
• Keep nails clean and well clipped to avoid corneal tears or abrasions
• Wash hands after playing with children and animals to avoid allergies or any irritation
• Use caution in the kitchen when cooking with spices and chilies
• Avoid sleeping in eye makeup such as kajal and mascara

What’s your thoughts on this article? How have you been taking care of your eyes? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Diabetes and Eye Disease: What’s the connection?

People affected with diabetes develop unexpected complications due to the varying glucose levels in the body. Although glucose is an important source of energy for the body’s cells, too much glucose in the blood for a long time can cause damage in many parts of the body, including the heart, kidneys, blood vessels and the small blood vessels in the eyes.

Eyes, in specific are affected the most. Studies reveal that 85 percent of Diabetic people could develop eye problems, but the intensity varies from person to person. While some may just have minor temporary blur which can be fixed with treatment, there are cases where people permanently lose their vision.
However the good news is that 90 percent of diabetes-related vision loss can be prevented, but early detection is the key.

That’s why it’s vital to know why you are at risk of eye diseases and what you can do to fix them. We’ve got all the facts and advice to help you do it.

What is Diabetic eye disease?

Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of eye problems that people with diabetes may develop as a complication of disease. People with diabetes are at risk for diabetic retinopathy, cataract and glaucoma, which are often referred to under the umbrella term of Diabetic Eye disease.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eyes (retina). This creates dark blotches across our field of vision. At first, diabetic retinopathy may cause no symptoms or only mild vision problems. Eventually, it can lead to complete blindness.

Cataract

Cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye. The lens of our eyes is normally filled with transparent proteins. When these proteins clump together, they block our vision.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma causes increase in fluid pressure inside the eye that leads to optic nerve damage and loss of vision.

How does glucose affect eyes?

High glucose can change fluid levels or cause swelling in the tissues of your eyes. This causes blurring of vision. Continued high sugar- damages tiny blood vessels in the back of your eyes. Damaged blood vessels may leak fluid and cause swelling. These blood vessels can bleed into the middle part of the eye and lead to scarring or increase in eye pressure.

However, studies reveal that the blurriness can be fixed when blood glucose down to normal range. If blurriness doesn’t go away when glucose levels are close to normal, you might have retinopathy. Fortunately, it’s preventable and treatable too.

Risk factors to develop Diabetic eye disease

  • High blood sugar: The higher the level of blood sugar, the greater is the risk of developing retinopathy.
  • Duration of diabetes – The longer a person suffers from diabetes, the greater the risk of developing retinopathy. Nearly 90% of people who have had diabetes for over 10 years are at increased risk to develop some extent of diabetic retinopathy.
  • High blood pressure: High blood pressure in itself is detrimental to the retinal blood vessels and can cause hypertensive retinopathy. Therefore, among people with both a raised blood sugar level and high blood pressure, the risk of diabetic retinopathy still higher.
  • Smoking: Smokers are at a greater risk of blood vessel disorders, including retinopathy.
  • Symptoms of Diabetes eye Disease

    Often there are no early symptoms of diabetic eye disease. It’s rather progressive with no changes in vision or no pain initially.

    However, When symptoms do occur, they may include

    • blurry or wavy vision
    • frequently changing vision—sometimes from day to day
    • dark areas or vision loss
    • poor color vision
    • spots or dark strings (also called floaters)
    • flashes of light

    Regular Check-ups can save your day

    Diabetes is such a disease that largely depends on the how well you control it. Particularly, regular check ups reduce the probability of worsening of the symptoms and contributes to a peaceful living inspite of being Diabetic.
    You can reduce your risk of getting diabetic retinopathy by doing the following:

    • Keeping your blood sugar as close to normal as possible will help reduce your risk levels

    • Manage your diabetes- Make healthy eating and physical activity part of your daily routine. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise activity, such as walking, each week. Take oral diabetes medications or insulin as directed.

    • Monitor your blood sugar level- You may need to check and record your blood sugar level several times a day — more-frequent measurements may be required if you’re ill or under stress. Ask your doctor how often you need to test your blood sugar.

    • Check your glycosylated hemoglobin level- The glycosylated hemoglobin test, or hemoglobin A1C test, reflects your average blood sugar level for the two- to three-month period before the test. For most people, the HbA1C goal is to be under 7 percent.

    • Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and losing excess weight can help. Sometimes medication is needed, too.

    • If you smoke,quit the same as soon as possible- Smoking increases your risk of various diabetes complications, including diabetic retinopathy.

    • Pay attention to vision changes. Contact your eye doctor right away if you experience sudden vision changes or your vision becomes blurry, spotty or hazy. Have a dilated eye exam at least once a year – early detection of diabetic eye disease reduces the risk of blindness.

    Takeaway

    The best way to prevent an eye problem, or stop it from progressing, is to make regular visits to your eye doctor. You should always call your eye doctor if you have any sudden changes in vision.

    Remember, diabetes doesn’t necessarily lead to vision loss. Taking an active role in diabetes management can go a long way toward preventing complications. After all, prevention is always better than cure.

    The essential guide to understanding Diabetes

    Sweets are a weakness for so many of us. For a refreshing morning, the first thing that most of us do is to grab a piping hot cup of coffee or tea. Imagine having that cup without the heap of white powder that powers you through your day. Though many of us dread that very thought, it’s important to remember that too much of a good thing can make you sick, especially if that one good thing is sugar.  Life needs be balanced, and this also includes the diet that you follow.

    One of the most serious and chronic diseases that anyone can be affected is Diabetes. It is one of the leading chronic causes of debility, especially among the middle aged, who are the breadwinners in most families and the reason for economic growth of a country. Thus if diabetes isn’t detected and managed in time, the chances of fatality and disability can only prove to increase.

    Type 2 diabetes typically affects adults over age 40. It’s sudden detection can completely change your habits and priorities. It’s just isn’t a health condition, it’s entirely a lifestyle change. Right from learning how to monitor blood sugar (glucose) levels to counting carb intake, you’ll need to be extra careful to manage diabetes the right way. Here’s your go-to guide on diabetes that helps you understand diabetes on a deeper level and manage it better

    Types of Diabetes

    Type 1: It is also known as Juvenile diabetes since it typically affects children and young individuals. These individuals cannot produce insulin in sufficient quantities and hence are insulin –dependent over time. To balance the levels, they must take artificial insulin daily.

    Type 2: This normally occurs in middle or older age group individuals and is known as insulin resistant Diabetes. In this scenario though the body produces enough insulin, the muscles and liver that normally take the blood sugar and use it for energy. The muscles and liver begin to lose their sensitivity to the hormone insulin inside the body and becomes dependent on external insulin.

    Gestational diabetes: This type of Diabetes occurs in women during pregnancy when the body can become less sensitive to insulin. Gestational diabetes generally does not occur in all women and usually resolves after giving birth.

    Symptoms of Diabetes

    Frequent urination

    Excess glucose in the blood causes the kidneys to flush it out, thus increasing the frequency of urination or the urge to urinate.

    Increased thirst/ dry mouth

    Frequent urination leads to fluid loss that results in the feeling of increased thirst and dry mouth.

    Increased intake of food

    This tends to be more common with type 2 diabetes, in which the glucose is not utilized by the tissues since they are resistant to the action of insulin causing the pancreas to produce more insulin. The increase in sugar levels are signaled to the brain and the hunger pangs are activated.

    Extreme fatigue

    Despite taking more food and having more glucose there is extreme fatigability since the excess glucose is not being utilized by the body.

    Blurry Vision

    Blurred vision occurs when there are rapid changes in blood sugar — from low to high or high to low — to which the eye muscles have not yet adapted to.

    Numbness/tingling/pain of hands and feet

    Over time, a prolonged exposure to high blood sugar can damage the nerves throughout the body — a condition called diabetic neuropathy

    Weight loss

    Since the cells are not getting their required amount of energy, alternate sources of energy are looked for which burns the storage of fat and results in weight loss.

    Slower healing of wounds

    High levels of blood glucose affect the nerves, leading to poor blood circulation, making it hard for blood – vital for skin repair – to reach areas of the body affected by sores or wounds.

    How much is too much: The optimum ranges

    According to the American Diabetic association, the following criteria is used to diagnose diabetes.

    symptoms of type 2 diabetes

    Prediabetes

    Doctors refer to some people as being prediabetic or having borderline diabetes when their blood sugar is usually in the range of 100 to 125 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). When the blood sugar levels that are between 70 and 99 mg/dL, it is said to be normal. The prediabetes level means that blood glucose is higher than usual but not so high as to constitute diabetes.Although they do not usually experience the symptoms of full diabetes, people with prediabetes are, still at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

    The risk factors for prediabetics and type 2 diabetes are similar. They include

    • being overweight
    • a family history of diabetes
    • a history of high blood pressure
    • being older than 45 years of age
    • maintaining a sedentary lifestyle
    • having history of gestational diabetes or giving birth to a child with a birth weight of more than 9 pounds
    • a history of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

    Prediabetic individual could escape the wrath of diabetes by making healthy life style changes that can ideally stop the progression to type 2 diabetes. Losing weight and having a more healthy diet can often help prevent the disease.

    Type 2 Diabetes prevention tips

    The good news about managing diabetes is that you are sure to keep your sugars in check when you make appropriate modifications in your lifestyle. However, you literally need to sweat it out to achieve lower sugar targets.Below listed are a few actionable tips that can effectively control diabetes from progressing further.

  • Eating healthier carbohydrates and more fiber will help drop blood sugars levels.
  • Exercise can increase the insulin sensitivity of muscles, which will then absorb more blood sugar.
  • Include foods rich in fiber and healthy carbohydrates in your diet. Eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help keep your blood glucose levels steady.
  • Eat at regular intervals
  • Only eat until you’re full.
  • Control your weight and keep your heart healthy. That means keeping refined carbohydrates, sweets, and animal fats to a minimum.
  • Get about half an hour of aerobic activity daily to help keep your heart healthy.
  • Foods to consume

    Food and Nutrition plays an important role in controlling Diabetes. It’s important to keep a check on what you are eating during and post your diabetes phase.

    Healthy carbohydrates can provide you with fiber. The options include vegetables, fruits, legumes (such as beans), whole grains. You can get healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from a number of foods, including olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, almonds, pecans etc.

    Although these options for fat are good for you, they’re high in calories. Moderation is key. When choosing dairy products, choose low-fat options. There are certain foods that you should limit or avoid entirely. These include foods heavy in saturated fats/trans fats, processed meats, red meat, such as beef, pork, and lamb, baked goods, processed snacks, sugary drinks etc.

    Here’s an infographic that talks about Diabetes and the foods you need to.

    type 2 diabetes

    Takeaway

    Diabetes is a life-changing condition that requires careful blood sugar management and a healthy lifestyle for managing it right. Although controlling diabetes entirely depends on the patient’s will and determination, it isn’t really a cakewalk.You may need to battle psychological demons to remain motivated over the long haul and learn how to live a semi-normal lifestyle. But it’s always worth it because diabetes is 90% dependent on management and only 10% on other unforeseen circumstances.

    Watch out this space for more insights on managing diabetes.

    For any queries or consultation with a doctor, Click here.