Many eye problems require an ophthalmologist’s medical knowledge from years of clinical and surgical training, but there are simple eye problems that you can treat safely at home. Here are a few eye problems that can respond to home treatment, with tried and true remedies.
Treating Black Eyes at Home
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
- 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.
Treating Pink Eye (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.
Additional resource: Pink eye questions answered by ophthalmologists
Eye Allergy and Seasonal Allergy Treatment
Just as you can get nasal allergies, you can get eye allergies that leave your eyes red, itchy, and teary. Limiting your exposure to the source of your allergy — whether it’s pollen, ragweed, 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.
- Turn on your air conditioning; keeping the windows close limits your pollen exposure
- Keeping your hands clean of outdoor irritants helps keep them out of your eyes.
If dust is the problem:
- Use allergen-reducing covers for your bed.
- Try artificial tears, which temporarily wash allergens from your eyes.
- Utilize over-the-counter anti-allergy eye drops to lessen the symptoms.
Treating a Stye at Home
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.
Eye Strain Treatment and Prevention
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
- wearing sunglasses
When to Schedule an Appointment
Some eye problems you should never treat on your own. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention right away:
- Double vision
- Pain in your eye
- Serious eye injuries
As with any medical problem, the sooner you seek medical help, the better the chances are of a good outcome. With any of these conditions, contact us right away if the symptoms worsen or don’t go away, or if your vision is affected.