What exactly is pink eye?

To start, there are a few different types of pink eye:

Pink eye related to bacterial eye infections can cause a lot of swelling and produce sticky green discharge, resulting in eyes that are often ‘glued’ shut in the morning. Bacterial eye infections are more commonly seen in contact lens wearers and can result from our skins own bacteria.

Pink eye related to viral infections is by far the most common cause, and is caused by the same virus that results in the common cold. Viral pink eye will usually result in a watery eye with little to no discharge, but may still be crusted shut in the morning. Viral pink eye is the most contagious of all pink eyes, which is why it hangs out in preschools, daycares and work environments.

Pink eye related to allergies is more common after coming in contact with allergens and is often associated with other physical symptoms like stuffy nose, itchy skin or swollen eyes. People often complain of itching and may want to rub their eyes.

Pink eye can also be related to some more serious eye conditions like scleritis, uveitis, or iritis. These conditions require more urgent care, and will generally not resolve on their own if left untreated.

Regardless of the cause of your pink eye, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis by your optometrist to ensure that the treatment matches the condition. Please don’t touch anyone until you see us, and we’ll let you know if you are contagious.

Please Note: Alberta Health Care now covers the cost of emergency eye care visits to your optometrists office – there is no charge to you as a patient. 

What do I do if I get metal in my eye?

If you’ve sustained an eye injury, it is important not to panic but to try and see an eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist) as soon as possible. If you feel that your eye injury is severe, please have someone drive you to the nearest emergency room. If you don’t feel that your injury is severe, please read on.

Most metal foreign body injuries occur accidently with metal fragments falling off an eyebrow or somehow getting around safety wear and landing gently on the surface of the eye. The metal or other foreign object can easily adhere to the wet surface of the eye and result in a scratchy, irritating sensation. As your eye is a moist environment, metal can start to rust and result in further irritation. Left untreated, metal foreign objects can eventually result in a large eye infection and may result in partial or permanent vision loss.

Most metal objects can be safely and quickly removed by your optometrist saving you a trip to the emergency room. Your optometrist will evaluate your eye by instilling numbing eye drops to ease any discomfort. Once located, the metal can often be easily removed with specialized magnetic instruments with little to no discomfort.

If the metal has been left in the eye to long, a small amount of rust may be left over after the removal. This rust can lead to similar eye problems and a continued foreign body like sensation in the eye. Your optometrist will quickly remove this rust with an Algerbrush, a fast moving instrument that gently polishes the surface of the eye.

Your eye doctor will provide you with a prescription for topical antibiotic eye drops or ointments along with lubricating eye drops, which must be used for a few days.

Please Note: Alberta Health Care now covers the cost of emergency eye care visits to your optometrist office – there is no charge to you as a patient. If you should ever experience a serious eye injury after normal eye-bar clinic hours, please proceed to the Royal Alexandra Hospital, where there is an on-call ophthalmology resident on site.

Prevent vision loss with Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant for the body. In particular, it plays an important role in eye health by preventing age related macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness in people over 55 years old). Studies show that it can reduce the progression for those who have AMD, and also prevents the formation of cataracts. 

Delicious sources of Vitamin E include nuts, vegetable oils, sweet potatoes, and salads.

*Image credits: salad, sweet potatoes, nuts.

Vitamin C for Healthy Eyes

Vitamin C (aka ascorbic acid) is a major player in eye health. It maintains lens transparency, prevents cataracts, and fights against age-related macular degeneration. The retina needs to be surrounded by vitamin C to protect itself from free radicals and promote healing if damaged. Our bodies do not naturally create vitamin C when needed, so including this in your diet is a critical part of keeping your eyes (and virtually all cells in your body) functioning properly.

Excellent sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits, peppers, cantaloupe, tomatoes, and broccoli. There are many tasty vitamin C supplements available from the drug store, too.

*Image credits: broccoli, tomatoes, citrus fruits.

health: Is It Time to Quit?

Smoking is a leading contributor to many serious eye health conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, dry eye, vascular eye disease and optic neuropathy. Smoking contributes to early atherosclerosis which results in pre-mature hardening of the arteries throughout the body and reduced blood flow to the eye.

To help reduce your risk of sever vision loss in the future, it may be time to consider quitting or at least reducing how much you smoke on a daily basis. With your permission, your eye-bar optometrist can sign you up for the free AlbertaQuits Helpline by Alberta Health Care. The AlbertaQuits Helpline will pair you up with a smoking Cessation Counsellor who will guide you through the process and act as a resource. They will help you with quitting methods and aids, how to handle withdrawal symptoms, stress management, cravings, preventing weight gain, and getting through temporary relapses.

To learn more about this program please visit AlbertaQuits.ca.