People may think you’re romantic if you see the world through rose-colored glasses. But if your eyes are red like roses, that’s an entirely different matter. It could be a bad case of sore eyes.
Known medically as conjunctivitis or pink eye, sore eyes are the scourge of summer. They’re common in hot weather and they can make you suffer.
Aside from redness, sore eyes may itch like hell and it feels like they have sand in them. Opening your peepers in the morning can be difficult because of an annoying discharge that keeps them shut. If the problem is caused by allergies, the patient may sneeze often and have a watery nasal discharge.
Pink eye got its name from the fact that the whites of the eyes appear reddish or pink. This is caused by the inflammation of the conjunctiva – the transparent membrane in the eyelid that also covers the white part of the eyeball.
In adults, the problem can be traced to a viral or bacterial infection. This is a contagious condition that can easily spread to others for as long as two weeks after the symptoms begin. Bacterial infection usually follows the use of extended-wear contact lenses that aren’t cleaned well.
In others, sore eyes are the result of an allergic reaction, chemicals, or foreign objects that get in the eye. They can also be triggered by dry eyes due to lack of tears or exposure to the sun and wind.
To prevent the spread of the infection, patients are usually advised to stay at home as long as there is an eye discharge. Wash hands as often as possible, don’t touch the eyes with your hands, and don’t use the towels, washcloths, or eye cosmetics of others. Change pillowcases when needed.
Treatment for sore eyes is aimed at relieving symptoms and making the patient comfortable in the next two to three weeks. The problem is usually not serious and will disappear in seven to 10 days without any treatment.
You may be tempted to use antibiotic eyedrops but they are not always required since the condition is often caused by a virus. Antiviral medications may help if pink eye is due to the herpes simplex virus. Don’t think there’s anything magical about applying urine to your eyes. It won’t do any good and could make matters worse.
To relieve symptoms, your doctor may recommend the use of artificial tears, or a cold or warm compress applied several times daily to your closed eyelids. Stop wearing contact lenses for a while and throw away disposable lenses. You may have to replace your contact lens accessories or eye makeup that you used before you got sick.
In managing sore eyes, don’t be blinded by misconceptions. Stop the spread of the infection with the right information and bring back the sparkle in your eyes.
National Press Club and Philippine Dental Association awardee George Nava True II is the author of three health books based on his popular medical column that has been running for over 30 years. For inquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org or text 09331366645.