Reader's Digest Asia Pacific

Treating itchy eyes; hydration tips; foot fungus facts; medical news

Why they happen and how to treat them

- BY SAMANTHA RIDEOUT

An itch that’s difficult to scratch quickly escalates from a mild distractio­n to a major vexation, so it’s little wonder that itchy eyes are a frequent complaint at ophthalmol­ogists’ offices. One likely cause: an allergic reaction. If your eyes are bothering you, consider whether you’ve recently used any new products (creams, make-up, soap) that could be causing irritation. Eyes also commonly react to pollen, dust mites and

pet dander. Avoid suspected triggers, if possible, and use saline eye drops to flush out any leftover particles. You can also take antihistam­ines, in pill or drop form, to ease allergic symptoms. Don’t wear contact lenses until the warning signs go away.

■ Contact lenses can actually lead to itchiness, especially if they’re damaged, not replaced often enough, improperly cleaned or

a poor fit. (An imperfect fit may be the culprit if you feel like you have a foreign object in your eye or if you experience vision fluctuatio­ns when wearing contacts.) Follow the replacemen­t schedule given to you, and make sure you wash and disinfect your lenses according to the instructio­ns that were provided with their cleaning solution.

■ Another possible reason for itchiness is dry-eye syndrome, which can be caused by insufficie­nt eye-moisture production (due to ageing, laser-eye surgery or medication­s such as decongesta­nts and antidepres­sants) or eye moisture that evaporates too quickly (caused by smoke, dry air or blinking less often). Over-the-counter saline drops, also known as artificial tears, will replace the missing lubricatio­n and can often relieve the discomfort.

■ If you have additional symptoms, such as eye discharge or a sore throat, if you’re in a lot of pain or if your vision declines, you may have an infection or a problem requiring profession­al care. “There are many complaints that may present with red, itchy and watery eyes,” says Holly Shaw, a registered nurse. “As some of the rarer eye conditions have the potential to be sight threatenin­g, it’s good to seek advice.”

Up to half of the world’s contact lens wearers experience dryness, itchiness and other forms of discomfort

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