Taking care of your eyes

Self-care for your eyes to prevent infection!

Your eyes are incredibly complex. They work hard from the minute you wake up to the minute you go back to sleep, constantly taking in information about the world around you. By far the most important organs of sense are our eyes. We perceive up to 80 per cent of all impressions by means of our sight.

Golden Rules of Eye Care

1. Clean hands

Avoid touching your eyes with dirty hands. This will reduce the risk of you getting an eye infection.

2. Don’t rub your eyes

Try to avoid rubbing or scratching your eyes as this can lead to an eye infection.

3. Avoid triggers

If your eye discomfort is triggered by allergies for example, try to avoid the cause of your allergic reaction. Common triggers include fur, dust, pollen and certain foods.

4. Don’t share personal items

Avoid sharing things like towels, flannels or make-up as this could pass on an infection.

5. Cleaning your eyes

Any eye discharge should be gently cleaned from the eye area. Use a separate cotton wool pad soaked in water for each eye. Always wipe from the corner of the eye (nearest the nose) outwards to prevent cross-contamination of any infection into the other eye.

6. Soothing your eyes

A cold compress may soothe your eyes. A clean damp flannel that has been submerged in very cool water is ideal.

7. Contact lenses

Take care when inserting and removing contact lenses from your eyes. Always follow your optician’s instructions for cleaning your lenses and avoid wearing them for long periods of time. Take them out before you sleep and always wash your hands before touching your lenses.

8. Sore eyes and contact lenses

If you have sore eyes you should remove your contact lenses and leave them out until all the signs and symptoms of the infection or irritation have gone. Avoid using contact lenses until 24 hours after you have finished a course of eye treatment, such as drops or ointment. If you have glasses, wear these instead.

9. Eye strain

You can help prevent eye strain by giving your eyes regular breaks from looking at the same object, such as a computer screen. This helps rest your eye muscles.

10. Avoid looking directly at the sun

This can cause damage to your eyes because they are sensitive to the sun’s strong UV (ultraviolet) rays. If you’re outside on a sunny day try wearing sunglasses to help minimise contact between your eyes and the sun’s rays.

11. Eye tests

It is recommended that you have an eye test every two years. You should have more frequent tests if you have diabetes and are over the age of 40, if you have a family history of eye conditions, if you are over the age of 70 (and don’t have diabetes or a family history of eye problems) or if you have existing problems with your vision.

12. Diabetes

The condition can put you at a higher risk of developing eye conditions. You should have regular eye tests and always ensure that your blood glucose levels and blood pressure are stable and properly controlled. If you smoke and have diabetes it can increase the risk of developing eye problems.

(Diabetes Care 2017 Mar; 40(3): e30-e31 - Association Between Diabetes, Level of Glycemic Control, and Eye Infection: A Cohort Study)

13. Smoking

Smoking has been linked to several eye conditions including cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), thyroid eye disease and general eye irritations. If you smoke, try to cut down or quit.
For advice on quitting smoking, visit the NHS Smokefree website www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/nhs-stop-smoking-services-help-you-quit/