Ho Optometrist

Your Local Optometrist from 怡保……Ipoh….. Perak, Malaysia

Red itchy tearing eye… Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva (kon-junk-TY-va), which is the thin membrane that lines the inside of the eyelids and covers the sclera, or white surface of the eye. Conjunctivitis is often called pinkeye.

Conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, is an inflammation of the membrane covering the inside of your eyelids and the outer part of your eye. It is generally not serious but can be highly contagious.

Conjunctivitis often feels like you have something in your eye that you can’ t get rid of. There are many causes of conjunctivitis. Viruses are the most common cause. Other causes include:

  • Allergies (allergic conjunctivitis)
  • Bacteria
  • Certain diseases
  • Chemical exposure
  • Chlamydia
  • Fungi
  • Parasites (rarely)
  • Use of contact lenses (especially extended-wear lenses)

“Pink eye” refers to a viral infection of the conjunctiva. These infections are especially contagious among children.

Newborns can be infected by bacteria in the birth canal. This condition is called ophthalmia neonatorum, and it must be treated immediately to preserve eyesight.

Conjunctivitis is generally not a serious problem and often will go away by itself. You should still, however, see your doctor. Chronic conjunctivitis, if left untreated, can cause permanent eye damage.


Treatment varies depending on what is causing the inflammation. Bacterial conjunctivitis is generally treated with antibiotic eyedrops or ointment. Viral conjunctivitis does not respond to antibiotics, but antihistamines and anti-inflammatory medications may help relieve your symptoms. Warm or cool compresses may help reduce itching and swelling.

Drug Therapies

Viral conjunctivitis: Generally, your doctor will let the virus run its course. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral eyedrops, such as acyclovir (Zovirax) or trifluridine (Viroptic). Treatment is supportive and may include ocular decongestants, and artificial tears. Cold compresses applied 3 times daily for 1 – 3 weeks may relieve discomfort.

Allergic conjunctivitis: Your doctor may recommend allergy shots over several months, to reduce your sensitivity to the allergen. Antihistamine eyedrops, such as over-the-counter antazoline phosphate (Vasocon-A) or prescription olopatadine ophthalmic (Patanol), may reduce swelling or itching. An oral antihistamine can help relieve itching. A cool compress may help relieve symptoms, too.

Bacterial conjunctivitis: is treated with antibiotic eyedrops, such as sodium sulfacetamide (Cetamide, Bleph-10), or azithromycin, or ointment such as erythomycin (E-Mycin), bacitracin, or neomycin.

Table 1

Causes of conjunctivitis, and who is primarily affected
Cause of conjunctivitis Newborn babies Children Adults
Viral infection Uncommon Usually affects both eyes Usually affects both eyes
Bacterial infection May be severe and sight threatening May affect one or both eyes. May be severe and sight threatening May affect one or both eyes. May be severe and sight threatening
Chlamydia Can cause conjunctivitis of the newborn Causes trachoma, which usually affects both eyes Usually affects both eyes
Allergy Uncommon Usually affects both eyes Uncommon
Chemical irritants/traditional eye remedies Uncommon Can affect one or both eyes Can affect one or both eyes
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Something in the Eye…. Pterygium

What is a Pterygium?

A pterygium (pronounced ter-idge-ee-um, plural: pterygia) is a triangular-shaped lump of tissue with blood vessels that grows from the conjunctiva (the thin membrane that covers the white of the eye) on to the cornea (the clear central part of the eye).

Pterygia frequently occur in both eyes, usually on the side of the eye closer to the nose. A pterygium is not a cancer. People sometimes confuse pterygia with cataracts. A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye and cannot be seen easily with the naked eye.

What causes pterygia?

” The development of pterygia is strongly associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation and hot, dry environments.”

In Malaysia, people who live in rural environments are approximately 5 times more likely to develop pterygia that those who live in urban areas. Pterygia are thus more common among people such as farmers and surfers who spend a lot of time outdoors, but anyone can develop a pterygium.

Are pterygia dangerous?

Pterygia are not dangerous, but they can be a problem cosmetically and can cause irritation and redness. Pterygia may also interfere with vision as their growth can cause corneal distortion.

” If the pterygium grows on to the central part of the cornea it can begin to block light from entering the eye.

Although a pterygium is not dangerous, it should be checked to make sure that it is not something more serious. If you have any area of tissue on or around the eyes that changes rapidly or that you have not had checked previously you should make an appointment with an optometrist or eye surgeon (ophthalmologist).

How can pterygia be treated?

In cases where the pterygium is not actively growing on to the cornea, protecting the eyes from ultraviolet light will often stabilise its growth. In many cases, provided it is not threatening vision and it remains stable, this may be all that is required.

If a pterygium causes discomfort, eye drops and ointments may be useful. Your optometrist can advise you on the use of decongestant eye drops to assist in making the eye less red, or artificial tears to make the eye more comfortable.

In cases where a pterygium is actively growing on to the cornea and threatening to distort the vision, the only effective treatment is surgical removal. This surgery is usually performed under a local anaesthetic. It is best to have surgery before the pterygium progresses to the point where it interferes with vision. Your optometrist can assess the pterygium and refer you to an eye surgeon if the pterygium requires removal.

Can I wear contact lenses if I have a pterygium?

Your optometrist will be able to advise you regarding the most suitable contact lens for your situation and will require you to attend for regular contact lens aftercare visits so that they can monitor changes in corneal shape that may indicate progression of the
pterygium and check the ongoing suitability of the fit of the contact lens.

How can pterygia be prevented?

The best way to reduce your risk of developing a pterygium, or to slow the progression of an existing pterygium, is to protect your eyes from ultraviolet light. UV radiation can also cause cataracts and other eye diseases, as well as skin cancers, so reducing exposure
is a wise move. The best ways of doing this are to:

  • Avoid the sun: UV radiation is strongest between between 10 am and 3 pm. Staying out of the sun between those times will significantly reduce your UV
  • Wear a hat: a broad-brimmed hat will not only protect your head from sunburn, but will reduce by at least half the amount of UV radiation reaching your eyes.
  • Wear sunglasses: a good pair of sunglasses will reduce the amount of UV
    reaching your eyes and cut the amount of glare. Wrap-around sunglasses are
    best as they block UV radiation that can slip around the sides of
    conventional sunglasses.

Parents should ensure that they protect the eyes of babies and children from ultraviolet light through the use of hats and children’s sunglasses that meet the safety standards.

Can pterygia grow back after they have been removed?

It is not uncommon for pterygia to grow back after they have been surgically removed so it is important to follow the recommendations above for the prevention of pterygia.

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Floaters….. That You Can’t Catch!

Some of you might have encounter tiny specks floating in front of you but just can’t get rid of it? This might most probably be….FLOATERS! 

You might find it especially common when looking directly at a light background, or when feeling light-headed. The perception of floaters is medically known as myodesopsia.

What are Eye Floaters?

Floaters are those tiny spots, specks, flecks and “cobwebs” that drift aimlessly around in your field of vision. Sometimes people may momentarily confuse them with dust or tiny insects floating across in front of the eye.

Floaters and spots typically appear when tiny pieces of the eye’s gel-like vitreous break loose within the inner back portion of the eye. When we are born and throughout our youth, the vitreous has a gel-like consistency. But as we age, the vitreous begins to dissolve and liquefy to create a watery center.

Some undissolved gel particles occasionally will float around in the more liquid center of the vitreous. These particles can take on many shapes and sizes to become what we refer to as “floaters.”

You’ll notice that these types of spots and floaters are particularly pronounced when you peer at a bright, clear sky or a white computer screen. But you can’t actually see tiny bits of debris floating loose within your eye. Instead, shadows from these floaters are cast on the retina as light passes through the eye, and those shadows are what you see.

You’ll also notice that these specks never seem to stay still when you try to focus on them. Floaters and spots move when your eye moves, creating the impression that they are “drifting.”

Are Eye Floaters Serious?

While annoying, ordinary eye floaters and spots are very common and usually aren’t cause for alarm. Everyone experiences them from time to time and they cause no ill effects.

When Should I Start to get Worried?

Floaters in front of the eyes are normally clearly visible when looking into a light background. However, if they start becoming visible in every background, Suddenly Increase in Number and are Accompanied by any Loss of Vision, it is vital that immediate medical advice is sought.

This could be an early sign of Retinal Detachment.

If the retina has become detached or has a hole in it, you will begin to experience flashing lights before your eyes and you will also be aware of numerous floaters.

Is There a Cure?

The above mentioned two symptoms will be accompanied by a loss of vision, so urgent medical advice is necessary. Surgery is required to seal any holes in the retina, or to reattach the retina to the back of the eyeball.

However as every patient’s condition is different, we strongly recommends seeking advice from Opthalmologist or Eye Doctor for further understanding and investigation.

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