With the downpour of snow this week, followed by the rising stress of getting everything sorted for Christmas, many of us may have become a little run down and as a result developed the annoying winter cold we all seem to get once a year.
Whilst we think of the common cold mainly affecting our sense of smell and taste, did you know it can also have an impact on our eyes too?
Why are your eyes affected by the flu/cold?
The common cold virus, responsible for head colds will see the most vulnerable parts of the area targeted. As a result, this means that the more delicate tissues in your nasal passages, eyes and back of your throat are at risk of becoming inflamed and infected.
What are the most common flu/cold related eye conditions?
Conjunctivitis (pink eye) and discharge
Probably known for being the most common eye condition linked to colds and the flu is conjunctivitis, which is also known as pink eye. Although conjunctivitis is usually harmless, this infection of the cornea is incredible contagious during the first 24 hours it is contracted. After this period of time, the condition is no longer infectious despite the persistence of it symptoms.
A number of factors could cause pink eye to occur, from bacteria in the eye to chemical or smoke exposure. If you have a cold however, it is likely your pink eye has developed as a result of eye strain.
To relieve these symptoms the best thing to do is to apply a cold or lukewarm cloth onto your eye. If suffering from pink eye it is common you may experience an excess of mucus discharge overnight, making it difficult to open your eyes in the morning. This is not something to be worried about, and using the same tip as above, you should be able to gently wipe the crust from your eyes.
Burning and itching
It may sound dramatic, but when you have a cold your body is essentially under attack, and vulnerable to infection as a result. Whilst a cold can see your eyes produce too much mucus as mentioned above, it can also do the opposite, which as a result can cause dry eyes. This can make your eyes feel irritated and itchy.
This is easier said than done, but the most important thing to do if your eyes are burning or itching is to not touch them, as rubbing will only make it worse and increase your chances of developing or spreading infection.
Want to know some of the best home remedies to soothe your eyes? Gently pressing a steeped chamomile teabag over your eye will not only provide a more lasting relief than a wet cloth, it will also promote blood circulation around your eye. Another trick to get rid of dry eyes is to eat foods rich in omega-3, such as:
- Oily fish
- Flax Seeds
Eye swelling can occur as a result of conjunctivitis, however it can also happen on its own. Unfortunately this eye condition can be particularly uncomfortable as not only can your vision be narrowed but it may even cause pain and discomfort when blinking.
Usually eye swelling calms down after 24 hours, and like burning and itching in the eye it can be soothed by pressing a chamomile teabag on the affected area. According to Rebuild Your Vision , applying a compress to your eye is ‘the mother of all treatments when it comes to cold-related eye conditions’!
We all know that congested feeling our bodies feel from the neck up when we are in the worst of a cold. Our sinuses are blocked, our noses are running and we have probably got a headache to top it all off. Combined, these have an impact on our vision and can cause our eyes to be extra sensitive to light.
Whilst you could choose to draw your curtains at home and go full vampire for a couple of days, the best way to get through this discomforting eye condition is to consider the following:
- Buy a cheap and temporary pair of glasses to wear against the harsh light in offices
- Reduce your time on digital devices as this could worsen your symptoms, causing eye strain, dizziness and fatigue
Whilst most of the above eye conditions will disappear along with your cold, it is important you consult your doctor if they worsen or persist. Think you might need an eye check-up? Here are 9 important signs.
Fin out more about eye health, laser eye surgery, and vision, on our guides page.