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What are the Most Common Eye Ailments?

Common eye ailments occur because of several factors including the environment, medications, illness, or injury. Symptoms of common eye ailments may range from mild discomfort to severe irritation that reduces vision. Depending on the problem, treatment may include at-home remedies or a doctor's prescription. Many types of common eye ailments exist; some of them include dry eye syndrome, a corneal ulcer, and conjunctivitis.

Dry eye syndrome limits moisture production to the eye's surface, making it harder to produce tears. Tears are necessary to cleanse the eyes and help to promote good eye health. Dry eyes result when the related eye glands lack the ability to produce tears. The tears may also have a chemical makeup that causes them to evaporate too soon within the eye.

Causes of dry eye syndrome stem from environmental factors such as living in a dry climate or having a dry heating and air conditioning system. Side effects of medications like birth control pills and antihistamines also reportedly cause dry eyes. People who wear contact lenses are also likely to develop dry eyes over time. Dry eye symptoms are identified by dryness, burning, scratching, and a feeling of something in the eye. An ophthalmologist may prescribe lubricating eye drops or punctal plugs to keep the eyes moisturized.

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A corneal ulcer is another one of many common eye ailments that make the eye red and painful. It results from an eye injury that leads to a bacterial infection of the cornea. Constant rubbing of the eye can also result in irritation and infection of the eye, especially for contact lens wearers. Other common causes of a corneal ulcer include fungi, which has been associated with a parasite called acanthamoeba keratitis; this parasite can enter the eye if contact lenses are worn during swimming.

Immediate treatment by an eye doctor should follow upon the diagnosis of a corneal ulcer to prevent vision loss. Topical antibiotics commonly address the problem. More serious cases may require cornea transplant surgery.

Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, causes inflammation of the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eyes known as as the conjunctiva. As a result, the eye appears pink or red because the blood vessels of the conjunctiva become dilated. Causes of pink eye range from viral and bacterial infections that may have spread through coughing or sneezing to noncontagious allergic irritations from dust.

Symptoms of conjunctivitis include pain, stinging, itching, redness, crusting of the eyelids, and sensitivity to light. The symptoms usually apply to three types of conjunctivitis including allergic, bacterial, and viral. Allergic conjunctivitis affects both eyes and may also be accompanied by a runny nose. Viral conjunctivitis causes crusting, discharge, and watering all in one eye. Bacterial conjunctivitis affects both eyes and is identified by crusting and heavy discharge.

An ophthalmologist generally treats common eye ailments such as bacterial conjunctivitis with antibiotic eye drops or related ointments. Antihistamines and eye drops known as artificial tears generally help allergic conjunctivitis. Viral conjunctivitis usually requires no prescription because it disappears on its own anytime from a few days to a few weeks. In addition, a person with pink eye of any type can apply warm compresses over the eyelids and use lubricating eyedrops at home for relief.

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