What Your Eyes Say About Your Health
Red Bumps on Your Eyelid
Your eyes make oil naturally. If the oil glands get clogged, they can cause an infection in your eyelash follicles. The result? A painful, red, crusty bump called a stye on your eyelid.
To ease the pain, place a very warm, moist compress on the most tender part of the bump five or six times a day. You can also wash the eyelashes once a day with a few drops of baby shampoo and hot water. Call your doctor if this doesn’t help. You may need an antibiotic, steroid ointment, or even surgery to drain the lesion.
A twitching eyelid is a common and annoying symptom. It’s called eyelid myokymia. Most often there's no definite cause and it will go away by itself. It may be linked to too much caffeine or stress, or too little sleep. The solution: Make simple lifestyle changes in those areas.
But see your doctor or your eye doc if your eye twitches for more than a week, or if other parts of your face start to twitch. In rare circumstances it could be something more serious.
When you stare at computer screens all day, your eyes can feel tired. Take a break with the 20/20/20 rule. Look at an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes, says Ivan Schwab, MD, a spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Another cause of eye strain? They could just be dry. Moisten them with artificial tears, Schwab says. Still no relief? You may need glasses, especially if you’re over 40.
As you age, the thin tissues of your eyelids can take on a hooded appearance. This is a normal -- as long as it happens in both eyes.
Call your doctor ASAP if one or both of your eyelids droops toward or over your pupil. You could have a more serious condition.
Loss of Ability to See Small Print
Is reading a restaurant menu harder than it used to be? If you’re over 40, it’s probably normal. At that age, everyone's eyes start to change because of something called presbyopia.
“It's what happens when the lens of the eye hardens and can't easily shift from focusing far away to nearby anymore,” Schwab says. That means it’s harder to read close up, especially if the light is dim. Reading glasses, bifocals, and progressive lenses often help.
The bottom line: Call your eye doctor if something doesn’t seem right with your eyes. If you’re 40 or older, he’ll likely recommend an exam to check for signs of disease that may not have obvious symptoms. Some of these, like glaucoma or retinal disease, can lead to blindness.
“Getting a comprehensive eye exam is especially important if you have a family history or an underlying condition that could increase your risk of an eye disease,” Schwab says.