By Zack Steele
I hope all of you had a very Merry Christmas and have a very happy and prosperous New Year.
I thought I would end the year with the top 10 things that get people into eye doctor offices in a hurry.
- Pink eye: Health care professionals call it conjunctivitis. Usually it’s caused by a virus or bacteria, but sometimes a really bad allergic reaction can cause this as well. One or both eyes are very red and swollen. It’s usually treated with a drop to make this problem go away.
- Floaters: Usually these are nothing, but they can be a sign of an impending retinal detachment, so don’t ignore these.
- Headaches: A headache may or may not have anything to do with the eyes, but eye doctors always do a full workup to make sure nothing is being overlooked. The No. 1 cause of headache is tension, but several eye problems can lead to headaches.
- Styes: In eye care, these are called hordeolums, but these are the painful, infectious bumps that usually require an oral antibiotic to rid patients of this uncomfortable problem.
- Dry eye: Probably the most common problem in eye care, dry eye affects three million Americans. It’s most common in the elderly but can strike at any age.
- Strange visual disturbances: Often associated with migraine, usually the first time this occurs it sends people running. Patients may describe this as anything from a fog to a kaleidoscope. Headaches may or may not occur with these symptoms.
- Foreign bodies: If you ever had one of these, you know they are the most painful things there are to have. They are often metallic, but I recently spent the better part of an afternoon trying to remove a piece of wood from a very skittish 8-year-old.
- Sudden vision loss: This is most likely something that’s permanent and is usually vascular in origin. It’s usually caused by a blockage to a major vessel that feeds the retina.
- Eye pain: The usual suspects often cause this, but sometimes people have eye pain that’s not easily explained. Anything from dry eye to the very painful iritis, which is internal inflammation, can cause constant dull eye pain.
- Corneal abrasion: I saved this one because it’s the one I see most commonly during the holidays. Caused by a fingernail or pine needle from the Christmas tree, these are very painful and usually require a pressure patch or bandage contact lens.
Well, there you have it. I won’t bother telling you to visit an eye care professional if you have any of these 10 things. Odds are, you’ll be calling very soon. Again, Happy New Year.
Dr. Zack Steele is a 2003 graduate of the UAB School of Optometry. His practice, Trussville Vision Care, is located on Chalkville Mountain Road in downtown Trussville.