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Over-the-counter eye products

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Dear Doc,

I have a problem with my eyes. What can I buy from the drugstore?

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Some eye ailments can be handled with over-the-counter (OTC) products.

Various products, from ocular decongestants to artificial tears, are available over the counter to relieve simple eye irritations, such as excessive tearing, dryness or mild itching.{{more}}

Here is a word of caution, however; sometimes situations that may look simple could lead to a potentially dangerous condition.

Here are some disorders of the eye that should NEVER be treated with OTC products:

-Trauma: Trauma to the eye can cause bleeding into the eye or cause a retinal detachment.

-Abrasion: An abrasion usually occurs when there is a scratch on the conjunctiva or on the cornea.

-Chemical accidents: This requires immediate evaluation by a doctor. It may first be self-treated with water or an irrigant.

-Inflammation of the cornea – the symptoms include blurred vision, pain, and intolerance to light.

-Corneal swelling: This is when fluid accumulates in the cornea, otherwise called edema. The edema may cause visual disturbances, such as halos or starbursts around lights.

-Iritis: is an inflammation of the iris and its attached structures. Symptoms and signs include light sensitivity, eye pain, tearing and visual blurring.

-Acute glaucoma: is due to a blockage of the drainage system inside of the eye.

Your doctor will determine what other situations require urgent care.

So what types of over-the-counter eye care products are available?

There are several types eye care products that are available:

1. Artificial tears: Lubricants are solutions that are used to lubricate the eye and thicken tears. They are formulated as solutions or suspensions and vary in thickness.

2. Ointments : They are useful lubricants. They contain lubricating ingredients similar to petroleum jelly and remain in the eye longer.

3. Eye washes: are used to cleanse and rinse debris from the eye. These products are non-irritating to the eye.

4. Eyelid scrubs: remove oils, debris and loose skin associated with eyelid inflammation.

5. Decongestants: help to reduce swollen blood vessels in the congested red eye.

6. Allergy eye drop preparations: These are sometimes combined with ocular decongestants.

There are three things to consider when using OTC products. If they are present, then you should seek an ophthalmologist immediately.

1. If the irritation appears to involve the eyeball itself.

2. If vision loss occurs or your vision is blurry.

3. If the condition does not get better within 48 hours or if it worsens.

Dr Kenneth Onu is a resident Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Beachmont Eye Institute/Eyes R Us Send questions to: Beachmont@gmail.com

Tel: 784 456-1210

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