I turned on the Today show this morning and the story about Lindsey Lohan made me realize that there are some things you don’t want to see. In what alternate universe does she reside where wearing a skin tight, white mini-dress is going to gain her favor with the court? Reality, Linds, is not like Legally Blonde. She is in serious need of a life coach, as am I so I shouldn’t be throwing any stones. I am going to try to redeem myself today by donating blood. I prepared last night by putting down my wine glass and drinking only tea. Let me tell you – the snack and juice better be damn good. Here is my public service announcement: Give some of your blood. Like the Doritos factory, you’ll make more. Especially here in the Northeast, we are in desperate need.
Back to your baby blues … or greens or browns …
1. Conjunctivitis – In medicine, anything that ends in “itis” refers to an infection or inflammation. To add to the eye anatomy lesson from 2/8, the CONJUNCTIVA is the thin mucous membrane that covers the sclera (the white part) and lines the inside of your upper and lower eyelids. The conjunctiva is the part of the eye that is most exposed to the elements and therefore, despite the protection of tears and eyelids, is subject to infection and inflammation. Symptoms include blurred vision, increased tear production, crusting of the eye, redness of the conjunctiva, a gritty feeling in the eyes. It is most commonly caused by viruses but can also be caused by bacteria, allergies, fungi, chlamydia, and some diseases. It is contagious by contact and treatment is usually drops. Even if the conjunctivitis is caused by a virus, antibiotic drops are often used to prevent it from becoming a more serious bacterial infection. It, most often, when treated, resolves without sequelae but you have to live with everyone running away from your “pink eyes” for a few days.
2. Stye (or hordeolum) is simply an abscess that forms in the upper or lower eyelid. It is caused by bacteria that is always present, but that finds a way to get under the skin of the eyelid. It will usually start out as a small pimple and then grow to a red, painful bump either on the outside or the inside of the eyelid. It will usually go away on its own. Warm compresses and over-the-counter pain medications are useful for symptom management.
3. Chalazions – These are painless, red, bumps near the eyelids that usually form over weeks to months. They result from a blocked duct that normally carries an oily substance that helps to lubricate the eye. It is almost always harmless and will go away in time.
4. Eye Twitching – This is like a little tic in your eyelid, usually the lower one. It is benign but very disconcerting and annoying. It is often caused by stress, but can also be caused by lack of sleep, caffeine, dry eyes or allergies. It can last from hours to months. Treatment is aimed at addressing the underlying cause.
5. Floaters – These are very common and will ultimately affect about 70% of the population. They are due to … what else? … age related changes in the eye. The vitreous humor – the jelly-like substance that fills the eye – starts to thin. Tiny particles clump together and occasionally they float past your line of vision creating a shadow that you see as a black or gray specks or strings. As said, they are benign but if you notice a sudden increase in their number or frequency or if they are accompanied by flashes of light or loss of vision out of the corner of your eye, you need immediate medical attention. We will address serious conditions tomorrow.
I am breaking my rule of five because after I finished, I realized that I didn’t talk about subconjunctival hemmorhage which looks terrible but is completely harmless. It occurs when a small blood vessel bursts under the conjunctiva and blood fills up that area. It appears as part of your sclera turning red and alarms anyone who looks at you. It will resolve in 1-2 weeks as the blood slowly gets absorbed. In the meantime, come up with a good story for anyone who stares. For instance, say that you saved a baby from a moving train and suffered subsequent traumatic head injury. You can probably get your grocery bags carried to the car with that one. If you have to see red, you might as well have some fun with it.