An increase in contact with people, whether over the holidays or into the new year, can cause you to catch a cold. When infected individuals cough or sneeze, mucus and germs are released into the air, or into the hands used to cover their mouths. Viruses travel easily from the eye to the nose and throat. The sneezing, coughing, and fever that accompany a cold or flu can also negatively affect your eyes. Eyes can be dry and tired, and it’s not uncommon to gain an eye infection while under the weather. Our eyes are sensitive so it’s important to care for them as best you can, especially during cold and flu season. Most of us touch our face and eyes more often than we realize.
Here are a few common effects of colds on your eyes and how to avoid them.
One of the most common eye conditions associated with colds and the flu is conjunctivitis, otherwise known as pink eye. This irritating condition can strike at any time and without warning. A number of things can cause pink eye—chemical or smoke exposure, bacteria in the eye, and a viral infection. When you have a cold, chances are your pink eye is caused by a viral strain.
An example of how one can get pink eye is when kids (or adults for that matter) wipe their noses with their hands and then rub their eyes. Keep a look out for behavior like this that can spread viruses. Should you or someone you care for get pink eye, seek an optometrist and remember—it is very contagious!
Burning and Itching
Pink eye isn’t the only thing that can cause itchy and burning eyes. When you have a cold, your whole body is vulnerable. Sometimes, this burning and itching can be caused by dry eyes. Remember, colds push your body to extremes. Some people experience too much mucus production, which leads to a discharge and some people don’t produce enough.
Temptation to rub dry eyes will be strong! Resist! Rubbing your eyes will only make the itching worse. Plus, if your eye is infected, you can spread it to the other eye.
If you have burning and itching symptoms, you can use a cold compress. You could also use a damp cloth. Another suggestion is to eat omega-3 rich foods. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in oily fish, flaxseeds, eggs and walnuts. For quick relief, you can also use non-medicated eye drops.
A common symptom of a cold is frequent headaches. When everything is congested, your brain really feels the impact. When this happens, your eyes can become extra sensitive to the light. There isn’t much you can do in this case other than make like a vampire and stay away from the light. Reducing your time using digital devices when you’re sick can also help. Too much concentrating on small screens and small fonts has the potential to cause eye strain, fatigue and may even cause dizziness.
Make sure to get in for your eye exam! An eye exam can detect early signs of the flu and help you prepare to stay healthy during the winter months.
Wishing you a healthy winter season!