Protecting the Eye
Our eyelids are the first line of defense protecting our eye. The eyelid provides a physical barrier to the outside environment with eye lashes to screen out large particles of dirt and dust as well as drops of sweat. The nasolacrimal ducts (tear glands), which are located at the inner corners of the eyes secrete fluid into the lacrimal sac which, when the eyelid blinks, pumps the tears onto the surface of the cornea. This creates a 3-layered tear film that protects the eye with lubrication, has antimicrobial properties, and additionally catches fine particles of dust which can then drain away from the eye. Along the edges of the eyelids, between the eye lashes, are meibomian glands that secrete a thin oily substance that helps keep the tear film from evaporating. Like other skin surfaces, the eyelid also includes sweat glands.
Eye infections can cause eye discomfort in a variety ways, including:
- Blepharitis, eyelid inflammation/infection.
- Conjunctivitis ("pinkeye"), inflammation/infection of conjunctiva, which covers the eyelid lining and cornea surface.
- Styes, eye lash follicle inflammation/infection.
- Red, chronically irritated eyes.
Next: Nutritional support, diet, & lifestyle tips for eye infections.
Red, itchy eyes, swollen, red eyelids, bumps on the eyes or under the lids
Be careful not to rub your eyes if your hands are unwashed. Women should make sure they are not using old make-up that can contain bacteria or other contaminants. Consider using organic, chemical-free makeup.
The causes of these conditions are not typically known, but can be related to a general lowered immune system, chemical and/or environmental sensitivities, hormonal changes, allergies, exposure to toxins in the air, herpes zoster. etc. They also can often be helped through holistic approaches such as acupuncture and homeopathy.
The eyelid is composed of some of the thinnest skin tissue in the body. Muscles, both voluntary and involuntary, control the eyelid's opening and closing. The involuntary blink reflex, occurring nearly instantaneously whenever something outside approaches, protects the eye from damage. The involuntary blink is fast: only 3/10ths to 4/10ths of a second.
The conjunctiva, lining both the inside of the eyelid and the outside of the cornea and white of the eye serves as the next protective layer.
The strong, clear cornea is the next line of defense for the eye. It acts as the outside lens of the eye "pre-focusing" light into the lens. It provides an estimated 65% to 75% of the focusing capacity of the eye. The cornea also helps filter out some of the damaging UV radiation that comes from sunlight.
The cornea has the capacity of healing quickly from minor scratches because when such an accident occurs; healthy cornea cells actually slide over to cover the scratched area.
Obvious causes of eyelid inflammation are insect bites and allergies. Less obvious is the inflammation that can arise as a result of rubbing the eyes with unwashed hands, or environmental pollutants that cause the eyelid to become swollen. Generally speaking, inflamed eyelids are known as blepharitis. If an eyelash follicle becomes inflamed, a stye can result. If the meibomian glands become infected, a chalazion can result.
Role of the Conjunctiva
The inside of the eyelids and the outer surface of the cornea is lined with the conjunctiva, layers of tissue moistened by "goblet cells" that secrete mucin and form mucus and like the tear glands, produce some tears to help keep the eye moist. The conjunctiva contains tiny blood vessels that distribute nutrients and oxygen to the nearby tissue. It supplies the same elements of the immune system that other mucous tissues provide such as lymph cells.
The surface of the cornea can become inflamed, a condition known as conjunctivitis or keratitis (if it becomes infected). This often arises from rubbing the eyes with dirty hands - this is the reason children get pink eye so frequently. The inflammation is usually caused by a viral infection, sometimes a bacterial infection, and sometimes allergens such as pollen or environmental toxins in the air.
The conjunctiva contains tiny blood vessels can become more visible when the conjunctiva is exercising its immune, protective response, giving it a pink tinge. Some swelling can occur along with a feeling of irritation, itching, and watering eyes.
Eye Infections News
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