You Can Treat Some Eye Problems at Home
Many eye problems need an ophthalmologist’s medical knowledge. They have years of clinical and surgical training. But there are eye problems that you can treat safely at home, as long as they are simple. Here are a few problems that can respond to home treatment, with tried and true remedies.
You can usually treat a black eye at home. But if there are more serious symptoms of black eye, see an ophthalmologist. These signs include:
- blurred vision;
- blood in the eye; or
- an inability to move the eye.
To reduce swelling and ease pain the first day, apply an ice pack to the eye for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, once every hour. If you don't have an ice pack, use a bag of frozen vegetables or ice cubes wrapped in cloth. The cloth protects your skin from freezing. Don't put a raw steak or other raw meat on your eye. Despite what you've seen on television and in the movies, there's no scientific basis for this. In fact, the bacteria in raw meat poses a high risk of infection.
Pink eye (also known as conjunctivitis)
A virus causes most cases of pink eye. These cases don't respond to antibiotics. Viral conjunctivitis will disappear on its own. Have your ophthalmologist diagnose your particular case. Reduce the discomfort of conjunctivitis by applying cool compresses to the eye.
If your conjunctivitis is bacterial, follow your treatment plan. This usually involves antibiotic eye drops. In either case, you should take steps to reduce the chance of passing the problem on to someone else. Conjunctivitis is highly contagious. Follow these tips to prevent the spread:
- Don't share towels, handkerchiefs or cosmetics.
- Change pillowcases frequently.
- Wash your hands often.
Read: Pink eye questions answered by ophthalmologists
Eye allergy and seasonal allergy
Just as you can get nasal allergies, you can get eye allergies that leave your eye red, itchy and teary. Limiting your exposure to the source of your allergy — whether it's pollen, pets or mold — can help relieve symptoms. If you can't remove the source entirely, there are ways to reduce its effect with eye allergy treatments.
If pollen bothers you:
- Don't use a window fan, which can draw pollen into your house.
- Wear sunglasses when you go outside.
If dust is the problem:
- Use allergen-reducing covers for your bed.
- Use artificial tears, which temporarily wash allergens from your eyes.
- Use over-the-counter anti-allergy (antihistamine) eye drops to lessen the symptoms.
Stye (also called hordeolum)
While a stye may look nasty, it's usually harmless and goes away within a week. You can treat it at home by running a washcloth under warm water, wringing it out and placing it over your closed eye. When the washcloth cools, repeat the process several times. Do this three to four times a day for at least a week. The heat will help unblock the pores in your eyelash area. Don't wear eye makeup or your contact lenses while you have a stye. And don't pop or squeeze the stye. Doing so can spread infection to surrounding areas of your eye. If the stye enlarges or lasts more than a week, visit your ophthalmologist for further treatment.
Read: Stye questions answered by ophthalmologists
Many people have symptoms of eye strain, because of long hours of computer use, reading and driving every day. In most cases, there are simple things you can do at home, work, and while driving to ease eye strain symptoms. These include:
- resting your eyes,
- using artificial tears,
- wearing computer glasses, and
- wearing sunglasses.
Read: Eye Strain: How to Prevent Tired Eyes.
Use Common Sense for Your Eye Health
With any of these conditions, see your ophthalmologist right away if the symptoms worsen or don't go away, or if your vision is affected.
Some eye problems you should never treat on your own.
If you experience any of these, you should seek medical attention right away:
As with any medical problem, the sooner you seek medical help, the better the chances are of a good outcome.