Vizient has ranked Rush University Medical Center #1 for quality among the nation’s most prestigious academic medical centers. Learn more.
We don’t think about our eyes too much, unless something odd or irritating happens to them.
But good news: For the most part, even when something irksome happens, you don’t have to rush to the ER. You just have to make a few tweaks to your overall health or perhaps re-adjust your eye care routine.
Might be a sign of: Extreme fatigue
Most likely, if your eye is twitching, it’s your body’s way of telling you to slow down. Lambert says if a patient complains of a twitchy eye, he’ll ask them questions about their lifestyle. He'll usually discover the patient has been working nonstop, not sleeping well or super busy with their family and friends.
“The best advice I can give to patients is to take care of themselves,” Lambert says. “I recommend delegating more tasks at work or at home, get a better night’s sleep and eat a diet that’s full of potassium, calcium and magnesium. Those vitamins and minerals can help improve and strengthen how your eye muscles work.”
Might be a sign of: Allergies
During the spring, summer and fall, Lambert sees lots of patients who complain of itchy, dry, watery or puffy eyes. Nothing to panic about, Lambert says — just blame the weather, seasonal changes or allergens (dust, mold or pet dander).
For a quick fix, he recommends over-the-counter eye drops with saline solution (as a lubricant to help your eyes produce tears, which helps with dryness) or medicated eye drops. Benadryl, Zyrtec or Claritin can also help alleviate dry or itchy eyes.
Might be a sign of: A scratched cornea
The cornea is a protective barrier to your eye. If it’s scratched, you’ll feel sensitive to pain — and you might feel like something dry or gritty is in your eye, Lambert says.
“It’s important to see your eye doctor if you have this gritty/dry feeling in your eye because if your cornea gets scratched, you’ll be at a higher risk for infection,” he explains. Your doctor will put dye in your eye to check if the cornea is scratched. Then, he or she will give you an antibiotic for healing purposes.
Might be a sign of: Not taking care of them properly
For patients who wear contacts, Lambert shares these maintenance tips:
Might be a sign of: Lack of vitamin A
This is a complaint that Lambert frequently hears from his older patients, but it can happen to anyone.
One of the key causes of night vision issues: vitamin A deficiency. “Your retina needs keratin to work well, and if you’re depleted of vitamin A — which is known to improve eye health — it could be harder to see at night,” Lambert says.
He recommends adding vitamin A-rich foods like carrots, spinach, broccoli, cod liver oil and black-eyed peas to your next grocery list.
Don’t look at your phone at night, because the blue light that emits from your phone causes stress on your eye muscles.
Might be a sign of: Too much screen time
Your eyes might be getting stressed from all those screens. Even though screens play a big role in all of our lives (both at work and home), here are a few practical ways you can catch a break:
Sometimes, your eyes can reveal more serious health issues. If you notice these symptoms, get help right away:
Sign up now for free health tips and medical news.