At Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons, board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. William Segal and comprehensive consultative optometrist Dr. Marc Lay treat thousands of patients for issues ranging from the merely inconvenient to the potentially dire. While we have spent a great deal of time in our weekly blogs discussing conditions that could cause permanent blindness, like glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration, many of our patients also have questions about some of the less serious but extremely irritating eye conditions that can have a significant impact on their daily lives. Here is some helpful insight into the most common routine eye complaints.
Eye allergies, also called ocular allergies or allergic conjunctivitis, affect one in five Americans. When airborne allergens like pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and mold come into contact with the conjunctiva, a mucous membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the whites of the eyes, histamine and other substances are released that make the eyes red, itchy, and watery. Fortunately, the allergens that trigger allergic conjunctivitis are usually seasonal, so the problem is most likely only temporary and simple over-the-counter antihistamines can often minimize the symptoms.
Many men and women are afflicted with chronically dry eyes, a condition which may potentially be the result of any one of several different causes and, if left untreated, can lead to serious eye infections and even long-term damage. Mild cases of chronic dry eye can often be treated with anti-inflammatory eye drops, while more serious ones may require the use tiny punctual plugs, which are inserted into the tear drains at the corners of the upper and lower eyelids to restrict the amount of fluid that can drain from the eye and conserve the naturally-occurring tears that keep the eye safely lubricated.
Problems with the tiny muscles surrounding the eyes can also result in an irritating condition called blepharospasm, a repetitive, uncontrollable blinking or spasm of the eyelid. Usually these involuntary twitches are the result of fatigue, stress, or the use of alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine. However, a blepharospasm could also potentially be an indication of a more serious neurological condition like Bell’s palsy or Parkinson’s disease. Cases of persistent eyelid twitching should be carefully evaluated in order to determine the underlying cause and what treatment options are most appropriate.
Computer Vision Syndrome, an extremely common form of eye fatigue, is considered one of the most wide-spread workplace ergonomic issues today. When the eyes are forced to focus for long periods of time the muscles surrounding them make constant, tiny adjustments that keep the fovea lined up perfectly with the target. As time goes on, these muscles become increasingly strained, causing painful headaches and a characteristic sand-paper feel in the eyes themselves. Fortunately, the muscles responsible for eye movement are remarkably resilient, so even relatively short breaks, taken at regular intervals throughout the day, can have a positive effect.
In the vast majority of cases, these routine symptoms are nothing to worry about and will not cause long-term damage to the eyes or impact your visual clarity. However, if they become chronic, or persist for long periods of time, it may be best to contact Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons to make an appointment for an eye exam so that we can determine if a more serious underlying condition is present and what steps we can take to help give you some relief. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more information on how to keep your vision clear and healthy.