Eye infections are never fun, but heightened concerns around Covid means your or a child’s eye infection can result in missed work or school – and the involuntary entry into Covid-19 testing and protocols.
10 Ways To Help In Avoiding Eye Infections
Here are tips on how to keep your body as healthy as possible, which includes avoiding eye infections.
Wash your hands regularly
Pink eye is one of the most prevalent eye infections out there and it easily spreads from one person to another. While most prolific in the elementary school grades, pink eye can affect anyone. All you need to do is touch something infected with pink eye bacteria or viruses and rub or touch your eyes.
This could happen by way of shaking hands or touching a doorknob after someone infected just touched it before you. Frequent handwashing is the best way to prevent bacteria or viruses from landing on your face or in your eyes.
Avoid rubbing your eyes
Rubbing your eyes feels fantastic, but it’s not the best thing for your eyes. In our post, Why You Shouldn’t Rub Your Eyes, we talk about how frequent eye rubbing can scratch the cornea or cause thinning of the corneal tissue. It also elevates your risk for eye infections. First, rubbing your eyes puts your eye in direct contact with potential offenders, including allergens, viruses, bacteria, and funguses – all of which can lead to infection.
Secondly, rubbing your eyes and failing to wash your hands makes you more likely to spread infection to others.
Clean your contact lenses
Never skip cleaning your contact lenses. Because lenses sit on the eye’s surface, they collect potential infection-causing elements without the ability to cleanse the way the surface of the eyeball does on its own. Always clean your contact lenses as per the manufacturer’s or your optometrist’s recommendations.
If you drop a lens, do not put it back into your eye without a thorough wash. If you don’t have a designated contact lens washing solution in your purse, bag, desk, glove compartments, etc. ditch the lens and wear eyeglasses instead.
Don’t sleep with contact lenses
Sure, plenty of lens manufacturers say you can but we don’t recommend it. Your eyes need a break and sleeping with contact lenses means more time for the eye to be exposed to any potential infection carrier on the lens. Plus, contact lenses can irritate the eyes and the more irritated your eyes are, the more vulnerable they are to infection.
Dispose of and replace old contact lenses as directed
Do not wear your contacts for longer than they are meant to last. Most disposable lenses are designed for one-day, one-week, or 14-day periods. Even if they seem fine, resist the urge to stretch your prescription by wearing them for extra days.
Soft contacts are permeable lenses, and the membranes begin to break down when worn past their intended use date. This makes them less likely to protect your eye and more likely to allow potential irritants direct contact with your eye.
Read 15 Tips to Avoid Contact Lens Related Eye Infections for more on that topic.
Flush your eyes thoroughly after swimming in lakes or rivers
During the summer, we see an uptick of infections caused by acanthamoeba, a water-bourne microscopic organism that infects the eyes. Once again, contact lens wearers are the most susceptible, but anyone’s eyes can be affected if they swim in water with the acanthamoeba organisms.
While acanthamoeba is found in tap water, they are found in the highest concentrations in streams, rivers, lakes, pools, hot tubs, and the soil. If you are a swimmer or like to spend time in the water, flush your eyes thoroughly with filtered water and/or a gentle saline solution afterward to minimize your risk of infection.
Never share makeup brushes
As we mentioned in number one, pink eye and most other eye infections are highly contagious. Sharing mascara, eyeliner, and eye shadow brushes is one of the most common ways to spread pink eye, especially in the teenage population or between parents and children. Avoid sharing makeup brushes altogether to avoid infection.
Make healthy lifestyle choices
Most eye infections clear up on their own due to your diligent immune system. That said, the weaker your immune system is, the more likely you are to develop an infection or to suffer for longer than necessary. Making healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating a nutritious diet, getting plenty of exercise, and making sure to get adequate sleep each night, goes a long way towards avoiding eye infections and minimizing their symptoms and side effects if you do succumb to conjunctivitis.
Avoiding eye infections when treating eye injuries
Anytime your eye is scratched or punctured, it is at a higher risk of developing an infection. This is especially the case for those injured during yard work or outdoor activities where an errant branch, foxtails, dust particles, or other yard debris carry a range of potential irritants directly onto and into your eye.
Make sure to treat any eye injury or irritation with great care. Flush it regularly, keep an eye out for early symptoms or signs of infection, and schedule an appointment with your eye doctor if your eye doesn’t seem better within 24 to 48 hours.
Minimize the eyes’ exposure to mold and other allergens
Allergies cause eye inflammation and irritation. That makes the eyes more likely to become infected. Try to minimize exposure to mold and other allergens by:
- Consider wearing your eyeglasses and skipping contact when working in an environment with known allergens or during the peak of allergy season.
- Wearing safety goggles when doing hard work or other work that stirs up airborne allergens
- Installing a whole-home filtration system
- Vacuuming and dusting regularly
- Speaking to your doctor about over-the-counter allergy medications to reduce eye inflammation or irritation
- Washing your hands regular
- Avoid rubbing your eyes
Are you experiencing signs of an eye infection? Contact Atlantic Eye Institute to schedule an appointment or speak to one of our doctors.