Sometimes the eyes feel uncomfortable. They may itch, ache, or tear up every now and then, but these problems are not usually a cause for concern. However, sometimes itchy eyes can be a sign of a bigger issue that needs to be resolved by an ophthalmology specialist. Keep reading to learn about a few problems that might be occurring.
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
Your eyes are lubricated and protected by a tear film, which is a multi-layer fluid that is made up of water, mucus, and meibomian. Meibomian is an oily substance that keeps the tear film from drying out quickly. And, the substance is created by small glands that sit within the eyelid. These glands, like others in the body, can become clogged or blocked by debris. They can also stop releasing as much oil as they once did due to general dysfunction problems or the development of inflammation.
When the meibomian glands produce less oil, your tear layer will break down and evaporate more quickly. This causes a chronic dry eye condition that leads to itchiness.
Your ophthalmologist will examine your eyes and ask you questions to determine the cause of the meibomian gland dysfunction. If the cause is unknown or due to genetics or old age, you will be provided with lubricating drops to use. If an infection is present, antibiotics can be prescribed. If inflammation is noted, steroids may be given too. These medications may be provided as topical eye drop treatments or as oral medicines.
Sometimes the outer membrane of the eye, called the conjunctiva, becomes inflamed and infected. When this happens, you have a condition called conjunctivitis. While the term conjunctivitis may not be familiar to you, you may have heard of pink eye. Conjunctivitis can be a bacterial, viral, or allergic condition that causes itchiness and redness.
Viral conditions are the most common and will often spread amongst children and sometimes to parents and other caregivers. Bacterial conditions often occur if you have a sinus infection or another type of infection condition that has spread to the eye. Allergic conjunctivitis occurs with severe allergies and accompanies other allergy symptoms like asthma, sinus swelling, and rashes.
Your ophthalmologist will sometimes take a swab of the eye to look for the presence of bacteria. Inspections can also give a clue to whether the itching and redness are due to an allergy or a viral problem. Only a bacterial condition will be treated with antibiotics. Viral pink eye will clear up on its own and you may be referred to an allergist if an environmental or seasonal allergy is suspected.
For more information, contact an ophthalmology service in your area.