MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Millions of people have it and most of them don't even know it. We're talking about what's commonly called 'Eye Mites.'
CBS4's Ted Scouten was diagnosed with what a doctor says is Demodex Mites, also known as eye mites along the base and the lid of Ted's eyelashes.
"I had never heard of eye mites so when he said eye mites it was just really gross, so yeah I freaked out a little bit, but then when he explained that there are a lot of people who have these, and a lot of people who own pets get them."
So what are eye mites?
The mites, which are spread by pets and people, spend most of their time buried in our hair follicles. They love bodily real-estate that is flooded with oils, which explains why they love our faces - to crawl, eat & reproduce!
Dr. Norman Herskovich of Elite Family Eye Care said they are most active while we're sleeping.
"They try to avoid light, so what ends up happening as awkward as this sounds, when we go to bed at night they come out and they mate, and they will actually reproduce. They have a 2-3 week cycle and will eventually die, but their off spring will continue the process."
Ted was diagnosed with eye mites two months ago.
He now wipes his eyelids twice a day with tea tree oil wipes, but our cameras were there for the next big step in his treatment.
Dr. Herskovich says "The actual procedure allows me to exfoliate debris that would otherwise obstruct the Meibomian glands which produce a component of our tears known as the lipid layer or oily layer. The oily layer is critical to keeping our tears from prematurely evaporating."
The procedure takes about 20 minutes, but as Herskvoich tells us, it's easy to get in contact with these critters.
"These little mites, Demodex, are found everywhere so they are without question on floors. So we will step on these mites - transfer them from one location to another. And as far as pet owners, as I have seen in my experience, pet owners tend to have more Demodex in their eyes than non-pet owners although it's totally possible to not have contact with pets and still get these."
Ted will continue using the tea tree oil wipes for the next couple of months and will follow up to re-examine his eyes.
Now back at home, Ted is a lot more careful with his pets.
Ted says "It's not a matter of getting rid of your pets; it's just a matter of being more aware I think of washing your hands."
According to Dr. Herskovich, it's critical to getting your eyes checked regularly because the glands that produce oil located in the upper and lower lids are critical to keeping your tears healthy. He says that when the oil gets stagnated the glands become inflamed and that can lead to chronic dryness and they your vision can start to suffer.
It all comes down to proper lid hygiene - it comes down to making sure you don't touch your eyes with dirty hands and all it takes is a simple handshake without realizing that someone may have something on their hands and you rub your eyes. The next thing you know is you have them.
If you want more information from Dr. Norman Herskovich, you can reach out to Elite Family Eye Care in Fort Lauderdale at elitefamilyeye.com.
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