How to safely fix your eye problems yourself

Red and itchy eyes are really irritating, but the good news is that, in many cases, you can soothe away the problems yourself. Health24’s eye expert gives her top DIY eye-saving tips.

Yentl Barros

Megan Goodman, a qualified optometrist and Health24’s eye health expert, says there are various causes of eye irritations, and symptoms should never be ignored, and if the tips we describe here don’t work, you should definitely see a specialist.

The most common eye problems and what you can do to fix them:


If your vision is blurred, it’s likely due to dry eyes.

When your eyes are dry it causes inflammation in the cells of the eye. This is due to increased tear film evaporation and/or decreased tear production. This is a very common condition in females and those over the age of 40 (thought to be due to hormonal changes), as well as people who spend long periods in air-conditioned or heated environments.

DIY treatments for blurry vision caused by dry eyes: increasing fluid intake as well as decreasing exposure to air-conditioning are quick measures to relieve dry eye.

If you wear contact lenses, you can also give your eyes a break by not using them when you don’t absolutely need them.

Preservative-free artificial tears will also help restore lubrication to the eye.

Also, avoiding spending long hours in front of your computer and take a break every 20 minutes. Computer users should also remember to look away from their screens from time to time.

Persistent blurry vision could also be a sign of cataracts, in which case you should see an ophthalmologist.


Itchy eyes are most commonly caused by allergies or a hypersensitivity to something in your environment, such as pollen or a household pet. Itchy eyes can be accompanied by some redness and tearing as well as a runny or congested nose and sneezing.

DIY treatments for itchy eyes as a result of an allergy: the first step is to remove or reduce the allergen. Determine what is causing the possible irritation – for example, if you’ve just got a new pet and your eyes are suddenly itchy, don’t let them sleep on your bed or sit on the couch.

Spring is also the time when allergies increase. If you regularly suffer from hay fever, be prepared and take oral anti-histamines before symptoms start to appear. You can also take a look at our natural ways to manage hay fever.

Using lubricating, preservative-free eye drops can be soothing and also assist in reducing the amount of allergen, and you can use it many times during the course of the day.

Over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops can also be used for a limited period of time. Don’t use eye drops that “whiten the eye“ as this is not fixing the problem, only hiding it.


There are many possible causes of red eyes. You could be over-tired or even have a growth on the eye. The possible causes and its treatments are listed below:

Pterygium is a noncancerous growth of tissue that usually grows from the inner part of the eye. The growth often develops in people who live in a warm climate, so it’s common in South Africans.

DIY treatments for Pterygium: using lubricating eye drops will help reduce redness and irritation, but if the growth starts to affect your vision, it is best to see a specialist.

– Wearing contact lenses can cause red eyes because they have a drying effect on the eye. Again, preservative free lubricating eye drops can offer some relief, but it’s not a solution. If the problem persists or both eyes are suddenly or persistently red, head back to your optometrist.

– Subconjunctival haemorrhage is a sudden painless, redness in the white of the eye (conjunctiva) and it often occurs without you noticing it. A subconjunctival haemorrhage is due to a tiny blood vessel bursting. This can occur as a result of an episode of coughing or vomiting any obvious cause.

DIY treatments for subconjunctival haemorrhage: this usually requires no treatment and resolves spontaneously within 2-3 weeks. Using eye drops that whiten the eye will only delay the healing process. Just like when you have a bruise on your skin, the blood will slowly clear spontaneously. If these haemorrhages occur more frequently and do not resolve please see a specialist to determine the cause.

– Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye. Also known as pink eye, it can be allergic, viral or bacterial and is highly contagious.

DIY treatments for conjunctivitis: this is a tricky one to try treat at home as you need to know if it’s viral or bacterial, and if it’s the latter, you’ll need antibiotic eye drops or ointment.

– Blepharitis is very common in the elderly. It’s inflammation of the eyelids that can cause dandruff-like scales on the eyelashes.

Possible DIY treatments for blepharitis: Good eyelid hygiene and a regular cleaning routine can control this. Face washing, using warm compresses to soak the eyelids as well as doing an eyelid scrub with some baby shampoo. If this does not improve the symptoms, prescription antibiotics may be required.

Hordeoulum, which is more commonly known as a stye, is when the eyelid looks out of shape with a painful red swelling at the eyelid margin. This occurs due to an infection in one of the glands of the eyelid.

DIY treatments for hordeoulum/styes: warm soaks and compresses will speed up the eruption of the stye’s point and assist in drainage. Removing the eyelash that has turned in would also assist in speeding up the healing process. Be cautious of doing this yourself and consider that you may still need antibiotic eye drops if more styes form or if they don’t resolve.


– Floaters, medically known as “muscae volitantes” (fluttering flies), occur when the vitreous, which is the jelly at the back of the eye, starts to age and separates and can cause strand like pieces to become visible in the line of sight.

This process is normal and can occur earlier in some patients, e.g. in patients who are short sighted. They become more visible when one looks at a plain white wall and sees “worm“ like objects floating against the background.

DIY treatments for muscae volitantes: chances are they’ve always been there and you got so used to them that your brain simply blocked them out. But, if there is a sudden increase in floaters, or their appearance is accompanied by other symptoms like light flashes or a “curtain” in your vision, see your optometrist as soon as possible.

– Vitreous haemorrhage occurs when there is a bleed in the back of the eye. You would see dark objects and strands in your eyes. Don’t ignore this and see a specialist asap.

Our eye doc warns that one can never be too cautious when it comes to your eyes, and when in doubt about the cause, rather consult your optometrist, ophthalmologist or GP than trying to fix it yourself.

Breakthrough may improve glaucoma treatment

Scientists have discovered genetic variants that should improve diagnosis and treatment of the eye disease glaucoma.

A trio of studies published in the journalNature Genetics by separate groups of researchers found telltale variants on genes that also play a role in regulating cholesterolin cells and in an age-related arterial disease, atherosclerosis.

A variant in one of the genes, called ABO, also seems to be more common in people with blood group B, the authors reported.

The flaws came to light in a minute trawl through the genome of tens of thousands of people in more than half a dozen countries, comparing the DNA of those with glaucoma against those who were otherwise healthy.

More on glaucoma

Glaucoma – the leading cause of irreversible eye disease in the world – is caused by damage to the optical nerve, usually by a build-up of fluid pressure in the eyeball.

Early diagnosis is vital, as the damage can be averted if treated early enough. Spotting patients who are genetically more at risk would therefore be a plus.
Further work on exactly how faulty genes cause glaucoma could also lead to better treatments, the scientists said.

“Although eye drops are already available to treat glaucoma, these are not always effective,” said Chris Hammond, a professor at King’s College London.

According to the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO), 4.5 million people around the world have become blind through glaucoma, with the disease accounting for around one in eight of cases of blindness.

Casual Day 2015

The DU organised a weekly event during August in order to raise awareness of Casual Day and to sell stickers. Casual Day usually falls on the day that the university closes – then there are not a lot of students around to interact in a major event – hence our August activities.

On the Cape Town campus we kicked off with Aubrun Damons. a paraplegic singing a song and Joshua Preyser a blind student who showed off his ballroom skills with his partner Vilia Cilliers.

The DU team tried to include as many campuses as we could in order to sell stickers for Casual Day.

Blind Computer Scientist

Blind computer scientist makes the impossible possible

2015-09-17 21:00

Tammy Petersen, News24

Blind computer scientist 22092015

Rynhardt Kruger (Tammy Petersen, News24)


Cape Town – Rynhardt Kruger’s fingers glide swiftly across the screen as he accesses his messages on his smartphone. But instead of focusing on the handset, he listens to a voice reading the icons he hovers over.

Kruger may be blind, but he points out that the inability to see does not mean he has to be left behind by advances in information technology.

The 25-year-old student is the first blind person at Stellenbosch University to obtain both his BSc honours and master’s degrees in computer science and is currently pursuing a PhD with a special focus on assistive technology.

“This is any technology that a disabled person can use to accomplish things which a non-disabled person can do,” he explained.

“When discussing information technology, people often describe how it made their lives more convenient or how they can instantly communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world. Not often discussed, though, is how advances in information technology make the lives of people with disabilities a bit easier.”

Kruger, who was born blind, said he initially wanted to make music his career.

“I played the piano and the violin – well, I tried – until my parents made the mistake of giving me a computer in Grade 7,” he joked. “In the beginning, I got lost in the start menu.”

Fascination with technology

But this didn’t end his fascination with technology. Kruger, who uses a screen reader that reads content from the screen out loud, was later introduced to audio games but instead of playing them, he was more interested in how they were created.

“I bugged people to get me books about programming and also managed to get one at my school library. The only problem was it had been published in 1969. Nevertheless, I borrowed it.”

In Grade 10 he started attending afternoon computer classes at a nearby mainstream school and decided that he wanted to make this his career.

People are surprised by the ease with which he uses technology, Kruger said.
“I am often asked how I use a computer and whether I have a special keyboard. To a large degree I use a computer in the same way as anyone else.

“In my case a special keyboard is unnecessary. Since the normal keyboard layout stays the same, one only has to memorise it once.”

For his Honours project, Kruger designed a computer programme that allows blind musicians to study music on a computer.

Developed programme for blind users

Last year, for his Master’s degree, he helped develop a programme for blind users that enabled independent navigation through virtual worlds.

“I used a computer extensively during my studies, for writing assignments and reading all course material. This included slides and articles, but also textbooks and even exam papers.

“This is easy when the material is textual in nature, since text is typically encoded in a standard way, and can be easily read by a screen reader,” he explained.

“However, my studies also required me to read and write mathematical content. It does not have a standard digital encoding, and therefore screen readers at the time had considerable difficulty in reading it.”

Kruger explained he was fortunate that all his lecturers were LaTeX users, a system whereby mathematical content and other scientific documents can be written using only textual conventions.
Once completing his studies, he plans to go into computer research.

“I am really interested in focusing on assistive technology. In South Africa, studies into this field are really limited. The barrier for a blind person in all spheres of life is accessibility of information.

“New technology doesn’t only make things more convenient for people with disabilities, but also makes the impossible possible.”