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Pink Eye? It Could Be Coronavirus

How to prevent conjunctivitis and protect your eyes

When you have a virus, especially one that causes a hacking cough, runny nose, and other symptoms of a common cold or flu, it’s typical for your eyes to also get puffy and red. You may be suffering from viral conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye.

How do viruses get into your eyes?

It’s rather simple. When you’re sick, you can easily transfer viruses to your eyes by sneezing, coughing into your hands, or blowing your nose – and then touching the area around your eye.

The coronavirus – pink eye connection

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), doctors have discovered that COVID-19 can cause conjunctivitis. If you’re standing within six feet of an infected person, and they cough or sneeze, the virus can enter your eye. Alternatively, if someone sneezes and virus particles land on the shopping cart that you take and push around a store, and then you touch your eyes without washing your hands first – you’re giving the virus direct access.

However, despite the apparent ease with which coronavirus can infect eyes, the AAO reports that only about 1 – 3% of all patients with the virus contract pink eye.

Preventing pink eye

Like always, prevention is the most effective medicine! Eye care professionals recommend following these tips to help prevent getting viral conjunctivitis:

  • Wash your hands correctly

The CDC instructs people to wash their hands in accordance with these steps: wet your hands, turn off the tap, apply soap, lather and scrub for 20 seconds, turn on tap and rinse. Air dry your hands, use a disposable paper towel and discard it immediately, or use a clean (not shared) towel.

  • Keep your fingers away from your face

No rubbing or wiping your eyes! Even if you don’t feel any symptoms of coronavirus, it’s essential not to touch any part of your face. To wipe away tears or remove makeup, use a clean tissue.

  • Don’t share your personal things

As generous as you may feel about letting others use your personal items, now’s the time to keep things to yourself. For example, the CDC recommends not sharing eye drops, makeup, makeup brushes, contact lenses cases, pillowcases, or towels. Pink eye is highly contagious.

  • Consider wearing glasses instead of contacts

While there’s currently no evidence to prove that wearing contacts raises your risks of contracting the novel coronavirus, there’s some evidence that shows you can get Covid-19 by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes. In general, contact lenses wearers touch their eyes more often than people who wear eyeglasses, so it may be smart to make a temporary switch from contact lenses to glasses. However, this is only a friendly recommendation and not a hard-and-fast rule. If you prefer to stick with wearing contacts, washing your hands thoroughly can help keep you and your eyes safe.

Treatment for conjunctivitis

Regardless of whether your pink eye is caused by coronavirus or a different virus, there is no treatment for viral conjunctivitis. Usually, it goes away on its own within one to two weeks.

To alleviate your painful symptoms, eye doctors recommend:

  • Taking an over-the-counter pain medication, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or any anti-inflammatory drug
  • Applying a warm compress on your eye for a few minutes; take care to use a clean wash cloth each time and for each eye
  • Use artificial tears (lubricating eye drops) to soothe your eye irritation; don’t touch the bottle tip to your eye

Are you sick and have pink eye symptoms?

Now is not the time to make a DIY diagnosis. Eye redness, even if you have a virus, doesn’t necessarily indicate that you have conjunctivitis. A wide range of other conditions can lead to the same symptoms. Contact an eye doctor near you for help to figure out what’s causing your eye pain. Don’t visit your eye care practice without calling for guidance first, because extra precautions must be taken with patients who may have COVID-19.

At River Oaks Family Optometry, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 408-502-9282 or book an appointment online to see one of our San Jose eye doctors.

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Trouble Seeing at Night? All About Night Blindness

At this time of year when the sun sets earlier, many people are affected by night blindness. Night blindness or nyctalopia refers to difficulty seeing at night or in poor or dim lighting situations. It can be caused by a number of underlying conditions, sometimes completely benign and sometimes as a symptom of a more serious eye disease. So, if you are experiencing trouble seeing in low light, especially if it is a sudden onset of the condition, it is worth having it checked out by your eye doctor.

Signs of Night Blindness

The main indication of night blindness is difficulty seeing well in dark or dim lighting, especially when transitioning from a brighter to a lower light environment, like walking from outside into a dimly lit room. Many experience difficulty driving at night, particularly with the glare of streetlights or the headlights from oncoming traffic.

Causes of Night Blindness

Night blindness is a condition that can be present from birth, or caused by a disease, injury or even a vitamin deficiency. In order to treat the condition, your eye doctor will need to determine the cause. Here are some of the common causes:

  • Nearsightedness (myopia) – many people with nearsightedness (or difficulty seeing objects in the distance) experience some degree of night blindness, especially when driving.
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa – a genetic condition in which the pigmented cells in the retina break down causing a loss of peripheral vision and night blindness.
  • Cataracts – a clouding of the natural lens of the eye causing vision loss.
  • Glaucoma – a group of diseases that involve damage to the optic nerve and subsequent vision loss.
  • Vitamin A Deficiency – vitamin A or retinol is found in greens (kale, spinach, collards, broccoli etc.), eggs, liver, orange vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, mango etc.), eggs and butter. Your doctor may also prescribe Vitamin A supplements if you have a serious deficiency.
  • Eye Surgery – refractive surgery such as LASIK sometimes results in reduced night vision as either a temporary or sometimes permanent side effects.
  • Injury – an injury to the eye or the part of the brain that processes vision can result in reduced night vision.
  • Uncorrected Visual Error – many people experience better daytime vision as the pupils are smaller and provide greater depth of field to compensate for any vision problems. At night, the pupils dilate, so blur is increased from uncorrected nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism or distortions/aberrations on the cornea from refractive surgery. Even a slight prescription for someone who may not need glasses during the day can make a significant improvement in night vision.
  • Eyewear Problems – even if your vision correction is accurate, badly scratched glasses or poor/defective lens coatings can also cause trouble seeing at night. Special lens coatings are now available on glasses for night time and foggy conditions.

Treatment for Night Blindness

Some causes of night blindness are treatable, while others are not, so the first step is a comprehensive eye exam to determine what the root of the problem is. Treatments range from simply purchasing a special pair of glasses, lens coatings or contact lenses to wear at night (for optical issues such as myopia) to surgery (to correct the underlying problem such as cataracts), to medication (for diseases like glaucoma). In some cases, your doctor may recommend that you avoid driving at night. During the day, it may help to wear sunglasses or a brimmed hat to ease the transition indoors.

As with any change in vision, it is critical to get your eyes checked as soon as you begin to experience symptoms, and on a routine basis even if you’re symptom-free. Not only will this improve your chances of detecting and treating a vision-threatening disease if you have one brewing, but treatment will also keep you more comfortable seeing in low-light, and keep you and your loved ones safe at night or in poor light conditions.

At River Oaks Family Optometry, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 408-502-9282 or book an appointment online to see one of our San Jose eye doctors.

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Diabetes Awareness Month – Learn about Diabetic Eye Health in San Jose

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, a time to learn more about diabetes of all types – type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

Everyone knows the word “diabetes,” but can you define the condition? Diabetes is a disease characterized by higher than normal glucose levels in your blood. Blood glucose is what fuels your body, and it comes from the food you eat. When blood sugar flows through your bloodstream, insulin is needed to help it enter your body cells so it can be used for energy. However, if you have diabetes, your body may make insufficient insulin or not be able to use the insulin properly. As a result, all that sugar stays circulation in your blood – unable to be converted into energy.

Diabetes can be managed very well through diet, exercise, and taking medication. Without controlling diabetes by keeping blood sugar levels within the parameters recommended by your doctor, the high blood sugar can damage many organs – including your eyes. Staying healthy by following your personalized diabetes management plan and making sure to visit your eye doctor for regular eye exams, you can pave your path to good vision and eye health!

Diabetic eye health & diabetic eye disease

To state the facts – diabetes-related eye disease can lead to vision loss, but if you have diabetes, you can minimize your risk of developing diabetic eye disease. Taking charge of your health and visiting our San Jose eye doctor for regular eye exams can help prevent these diseases from developing.

Diabetic eye disease comprises several ocular conditions:

  • Diabetic retinopathy – occurs when the small blood vessels in your retina bleed and leak
  • Macular edema – swelling that occurs along with retinopathy; it happens when the retinal blood vessels in the macula (central region of the retina) leak and lead to inflammation
  • Cataracts – a clouding of the lens in the eye, which can cause blurry vision
  • Glaucoma – increased intraocular pressure, which damages the optic nerve and can cause loss of peripheral vision

Diabetes eye exams

With regular check-ups by our San Jose eye doctor, you can help prevent eye problems or keep the problems minor. One mistake that many people with diabetes make is to assume that a diabetes eye exam is only necessary if they notice any symptoms. This couldn’t be further from the truth! A comprehensive eye exam is the only reliable way to detect several eye conditions that can cause vision loss, such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts. Early detection of these problems can make the difference between effective, successful treatment and damage to your vision. During your dilated eye exam, the eye doctor will use high-powered magnification to inspect the inner tissues of your eye thoroughly, checking the retina for signs of diabetic retinopathy and checking the optic nerve for any damage.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) guidelines:

  • People with type 1 diabetes should have their first diabetic eye exam within the first five years
  • People with type 2 diabetes should visit their eye doctor for the first diabetic eye exam immediately after diagnosis. Type 2 diabetes can remain undetected for years, and vision damage can occur during this time.
  • Women with gestational diabetes should have an eye exam during the first trimester of pregnancy

After the first diabetic eye exam at San Jose, our eye doctor advises all adults with diabetes to visit yearly for a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

At River Oaks Family Optometry, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 408-502-9282 or book an appointment online to see one of our San Jose eye doctors.

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