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.

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