Your Eyes Can Be an Access Point for Germs
- Posted on: Aug 27 2021
Do You Rub Your Eyes Often?
You might think the answer to this question is no, but we all rub our eyes much more than we actually notice. It happens when we’re sleepy, when our eyes are itchy or dry, or when we think something might have fallen into one of them. In such cases, rubbing our eyes is the quick solution to making them feel better. But no matter how satisfying it can be at times, rubbing your eyes can seriously harm them. Namely, anytime we rub our eyes, we transfer all the germs from our fingers directly to the eye.
Where Do All the Germs Come From?
Although this information can be a bit unsettling, germs are all over our skin. They make up an ecosystem commonly referred to as skin flora. But there’s no reason to worry: most of these microorganisms are not harmful to their host. In fact, some of them are even beneficial, preventing some diseases or improving the skin’s immune system. But there are also those that can cause infections or diseases if they manage to get past the skin barrier. For such germs, the eyes can be an easy access point. It also doesn’t help that we pick up germs from every single surface we touch. Many of those germs can get stuck under our fingernails. In there, they can multiply and then spread to other surfaces on the body, including the eyes.
Can Our Eyes Protect Themselves?
Fortunately, our eyes, like many organs in our body, have their own defense system. First of all, our eyelashes serve to keep the irritants away from the eye. So anytime we blink, we push the irritants away. The next line of defense of the eye is something called the tear film: a thin fluid layer that protects the cornea. It does so by maintaining a moist environment on the surface of the eye. But when we rub our eyes, we can accidentally cause small injuries to the cornea, thus making ‘an opening’ the germs need to get inside the eye.
What Can We Do to Protect Our Eyes from Germs?
The best thing to do would be not to touch our eyes at all. However, we know that’s not possible, especially for those of us who wear contact lenses. So the only thing we can do to protect our eyes from germs is to minimize contact as much as we can and touch them only when necessary. Also, we need to make sure to always wash our hands with soap thoroughly before any contact with the eyes. Another thing we can do to prevent germs from reaching our eyes is to keep our nails trimmed. Long nails are the most convenient hiding place for germs. In fact, under-nail germs are the main reason why medical professionals have to wear gloves!
Contact Us If You Have Any Concerns
If you’re experiencing symptoms like redness, itchiness, watering, or tenderness in your eye, you might have an eye infection. Don’t wait too long — schedule an appointment to make sure it’s not something more serious. And most importantly, try not to rub your eyes in the meantime!
Tagged with: eye health