Good Health and Bad Medicine:
Colds - Part 1
Colds - Part 2
Colds - Part 3
Mouth Washes And Bad Breath
Sinuses And Sinusitis
Asthma And Hay Fever
Read More Articles About: Good Health and Bad Medicine
( Originally Published 1940 )
UNDER normal conditions it is unnecessary to wash the eyes—there are glands situated close to the eyeball that do a better job of that than any lotion man can make. These glands are constantly secreting a fluid which bathes and cleans the eyes. If the eyes are irritated and an eye wash is desired, a solution of boric acid (a teaspoonful dissolved in a glass of boiling water and allowed to cool) is as satisfactory as any of the high-priced proprietary eye washes sold in drug stores. Almost all of them contain boric acid, borax, or both; none of them can do more than the simple solution above. If an eye cup is used, it should be sterilized by boiling in water for several minutes before use.
A sty may be treated by applying to the eye a small cloth or thick wad of gauze wrung out in hot boric acid solution, for 15 minutes at a time, every hour or so. The collection of pus usually discharges itself spontaneously. If it does not, medical aid should be sought. Recurring sties indicate either some disorder of the eyes or poor general resistance, and require the attention of a physician. Don't apply salve or ointments to the eyelids. They will not "draw out" the pus.
Particles of dust or dirt in the eye may be very troublesome. The old wives' system of holding the upper lid and spitting three times is a time-tried remedy, but unfortunately it usually doesn't work. The following is the proper method for removing loose, foreign bodies from another person's eye:
After having washed the hands with soap and water, get a fair-sized wooden matchstick with which to turn back the lid and another match on the end of which is wrapped a bit of clean absorbent cotton. Now, get the best light you can obtain and first expose the inner surface of the lower lid by placing the thumb just below the affected eye, pulling the lid downward, and directing the patient to look up. Look carefully for the foreign body on the inner surface of the lower lid or on the lower part of the exposed eyeball. If you find it, remove it by wiping gently with the cotton on the end of the match. Sometimes a foreign body can be wiped off with a fold of a clean handkerchief, but this is not so easy to handle as a match.
Foreign bodies are most frequently found, however, lodged on the under surface of the upper lid, and to locate and remove them, you must turn the lid wrong side out. This is more difficult than in the case of the lower lid. Face the patient, tell him to relax, to look down and to keep looking down. Grasp the lashes of the upper lid with your thumb and finger and hold them firmly, but do not pull. With your free hand, take a match or a small pencil or a similar smooth object and press gently on the upper part of the lid, lifting the lower part of the lid outward and upward at the same time. You will find that the lid will turn inside out and the foreign body will usually be easily seen and can be wiped off with the bit of cotton on the end of the match. A little boric acid solution may be dropped into the eye with a medicine dropper after the foreign body is removed. To do this effectively, have the patient throw his head well back or have him lie down. Raise the outer part of the upper lid by lifting with the thumb or finger on the loose tissue at the outer angle of the eye, and drop in about two drops of boric acid solution with the medicine dropper.
Never attempt to remove a metallic object, such as a steel splinter, from the eye. A serious infection or injury may result from unskilled attempts.
Since tear gas is being used with increasing frequency in industrial disputes, an outline of emergency treatment may be helpful.
1. Run to nearest source of tap water. Avoid rubbing of eyes.
2. Bathe eyes and skin with an abundance of water. Use eye cup or eye dropper if available, or simply squeeze water from a clean handkerchief or cloth into eyes.
3. Instill several times in succession, with a dropper, a solution of the following formula: 0.4% sodium sulphite dissolved in glycerin 75% and water 25%. The bottle should be clearly marked: "Eye solution for treatment of tear gas burns."
(For resultant burns on the skin another solution should be applied. This consists of 4% sodium sulphite dissolved in 50% alcohol. This bottle should be clearly marked: "Skin solution for treatment of skin burns by tear gas.")
It is advisable to have these solutions on hand whenever tear gas may be used.
If these solutions are not on hand when needed, then repeated washings of the eyes and skin with plain water will be of aid. It must be stressed, however, that this is merely emergency treatment. The care of the burns is a delicate matter, and final treatment should be left to a physician, who should be consulted immediately. The solutions de-scribed above have no value in preventing tear gas burns. There is no known preventive.
Eye burns due to acids or alkalies also require emergency treatment. The speedy and abundant use of plain tap water is the first essential step. Keep up the washing until an eye specialist can be consulted. Don't use anything but water. Acid solutions to neutralize alkali poisons and alkaline solutions to neutralize acid poisons should be avoided. They can cause serious harm unless properly prepared and administered.
With the slogan "Throw away your glasses," mail order courses in eye treatments are offered to those suffering from defective vision. Because of the viciousness of this kind of exploitation and deception, the U. S. Postal Inspectors' Department has moved to bar from the mail all advertising material purporting to treat vision disorders.
Visual defects are of many varieties and causes. A careful examination by an oculist is necessary to determine the type and cause of the disorder and to prescribe the remedy—usually lenses. In order for glasses to be beneficial, they must be individually prescribed and fitted. A proper prescription and fitting cannot be obtained by purchasing glasses through the mails. An aggravation of the eye trouble will surely follow the use of improperly prescribed or fitted glasses.
Not only diseases of the eyes but also diseases of other organs may manifest themselves through disorders in vision. Diabetes, high blood pressure, nephritis and many nervous diseases may produce as their first and sometimes only obvious symptom, a disorder in vision. For this reason it is urged that an oculist—a physician specializing in diseases of the eye—be consulted. He is able to determine by examination whether the visual disorder is due to a local disease of the eye or to a general disorder such as nephritis or high blood pressure.
Eye muscle exercises advertised by mail and gadgets that are supposed to improve the vision by massaging the eyeball should never be used. Neither will cure defective vision and both may cause harm, particularly if the pressure within the eyeball is increased, as in the condition known as glaucoma.
With the vogue for the great outdoors has come a vogue for dark glasses to protect the eyes from sunshine and glare.
Preferably, only optically accurate ground and polished lenses should be worn. Cheap glasses with minor imperfections, however, may be sufficiently satisfactory for occasional wear for limited periods. They are not likely in most cases to cause actual injury to the eyes, since the wearer will normaIly take them off when he starts to get a headache or other-wise becomes aware that they are causing eyestrain.
For steady wear and especially where concentrated visual attention is required, as in reading or driving an automobile, it is desirable to spend the additional amount necessary to obtain good-quality lenses. Certainly those with sensitive eyes who must wear dark glasses much of the time should invest in a good pair.
For real protection, fairly dark glasses are recommended. The pale shades so common on the market give comparatively little protection. As for the various colors, plain gray causes a minimum of distortion of color values. The common blues and ambers have no special virtue. Special claims for protecting the eyes from infra-red or ultra-violet rays may be disregarded. There is no need to protect the eyes from these rays. Only the worker in a rolling mill or the technician using a quartz mercury lamp needs such lenses.
Aside from the conventional spectacles with glass lenses, two other types deserve special mention-"blinkers" and Polaroid lenses. "Blinkers" are made of celluloid. The cheaper ones usually distort vision. For the price of a good "blinker"" one can obtain a sun-glass that is ground and polished and therefore of better quality and more durable.
Polaroid lenses have been widely ballyhooed for motorists and others who need special protection from glare. They do give protection against glaring reflections from most horizontal surfaces-beach sand, water, wet pavements. Polaroids are no more of a protection than other dark glasses, however, from brightness and glare from other sources, i. e., the direct beam of an approaching headlight, for instance.
CU's tests indicate that until manufacture of Polaroid lenses reaches a higher degree of perfection than it has so far, their peculiar advantages are offset by their optical defects. Consequently, Polaroid glasses as now available cannot be recommended for steady use.
Those individuals wearing eyeglasses regularly can have sun-glasses ground to their own prescription from tinted glass. There is no reason why their optical quality should not be as high as that of the spectacles regularly worn.
The following brands were recommended by Consumers Union (July, 1938) for those who use sun-glasses continuously or in activities requiring prolonged visual attention.
Columbia (Columbia Protektosite Co., Inc., Carlstadt, N. J.).
Samples of the following brands are recommended only for casual use, and even then only where careful examination is made before purchase to select glasses which will give the least possible distortion.
Polaroid (American Optical Co.).
Miscellaneous cheap glasses (10¢ to 20¢) of unidentified manufacture from the five-and-ten-cent stores, etc. These must be selected with care. Several samples showed particularly bad lenses. Examine the glasses by holding them at arm's length and looking through them at a window or other bright object showing a pattern of straight lines. Reject those which cause noticeable distortion of any sort.