Chances are you have considered how you’d fare without modern medicine in a disaster situation and have stashed away bandages, topical antibiotics, over-the-counter medications, herbal remedies, and other supplies “just in case.”
Have you considered the health and optimal function of your eyes? In a survival situation where keeping clean is more difficult (no electricity, no running water, etc.), eye infections could become more common—especially among children. I don’t want to take any chances with their eyesight. I’m not a doctor, so I asked the best optometrist I know: my sister. Here’s her advice for healthy eye care tips.
Q: I have a bottle of eye drops from the last time my kid had pink eye. How long is it good? Can I still use it? Would it be different if I had an unopened bottle?
A: All bottled eye drops have an expiration date stamped on the bottle. Unopened bottles should be adequate for up to a year after the expiration date (same for unopened blister packs of contact lenses). If the bottle has been opened, discard after 6 months (regardless of expiration date). When inserting drops, avoid touching the tip of the bottle to skin or eyelashes as it can introduce bacteria into the bottle and cause contamination of the medication.
Q: Can pink eye be treated with oral antibiotics, or do I have to keep some drops in my cabinet?
A: Pink eye is best treated with antibiotic eye drops, although you could try using orals in a pinch. Pink eye actually tends to be self- limiting (it will go away on its own in time) in non-contact lens wearers, as long as you keep the eye and surrounding area clean, although antibiotics do shorten the course by several days.
Apply a warm wet cloth for 5-10 minutes to loosen debris in the lashes, then a gentle scrub of the lids/lashes with baby shampoo 2-3 times daily until the infection resolves. Cleanse from the inner corner of the eye to the outside corner. This keeps debris and bacteria out of the tear drainage ducts which are located at the inner corners of the eyes.
Debris in the Eyes
Q: Is water really a good enough flush, or do I need to keep that expensive eye wash in my medicine cabinet? Would a bottle of saline be just as good?
A: Saline is just as good. I would only use water as a flush if saline is not available. Even in running tap water there are bacteria that are okay for your gut, but not for your eyes. You can increase your risk of a secondary infection with a water flush. Stay away from saline intended for I.V. flushing. The pH is too high in that stuff for the eye.
Contact Lenses for healthy eye care
Q: Can I stretch the wear of my contacts longer than the recommended period? If I tried it, what might the consequences be?
A: The longer you wear a contact lens, the more deposited they become. More deposits equals more risk of infection or allergic reaction to something on the lens. Also, more deposits reduces oxygen transmission of the lens material, and this can lead to complication from oxygen deprivation to the eye. All three scenarios lead to red, painful eye. In a survival situation probably best to switch to spectacle wear.
I put off getting a spare set of glasses because of the expense. Heck, I put off getting a pair with my newest prescription for two years since I spend a good deal on contacts that work well each year! However, having backups are essential as a prepper. So here’s a great website that will let you get a backup pair for each member of the family for pennies on the dollar. I spent about $400 on the perfect pair of glasses a couple of years ago. Last summer I took my newest Rx and bought TWO pairs of glasses for less than $40!
EyeBuyDirect* lets you browse your options for frames (I sorted by cheapest, since I didn’t care about fashion and was only buying them as a backup). Once you’ve chosen frames you can enter all the information from your optometrist’s prescription. I didn’t ask for a copy of mine, but all the info I needed was right on the side of each box of contact lenses.
Don’t worry if you’re not sure what all the information means or where to find it. The website includes a tutorial on how to read the prescription so you get all the boxes filled in correctly. If you really want the anti-scratch, anti-glare, or other special features you’d get at the doctor’s office, you can request them for a slightly higher cost. As with most online purchases, you must check out with a credit card or Flexible Spending Account card.
Voila! Within a week I had two brand new pairs of glasses for 90% less than my last pair. So no more turning your nose up at having an extra pair in your bug-out bag, purse, or glove box. If you have rambunctious kiddos wearing glasses, this option is perfect for lots of reasons.
Let’s prepare our families to see the world clearly, and that means healthy eye care!
*Neither the author of this article nor the Survival Mom blog are affiliated with EyeBuyDirect. We just think it’s a great resource for budget-friendly eyewear!
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