Treating conjunctivitis

An eye disease such as a bacterial infection might be treated by antibiotics, although it can self-resolve — so see your optometrist or GP.

“Conjunctivitis is fairly common,” says Dr Susan Blakeney, Clinical Adviser to the College of Optometrists.

“It’s a red, itchy eye that’s not painful but is uncomfortable, that waters and can feel sticky. It can be caused either by an eye infection or by an allergy. If caused by an allergy such as hayfever, it’ll be found in both eyes. If it is as a result of an eye infection, it’s more likely to be found in just one.”

Easy tips to stop the spread

Good hygiene is essential if you have an eye Infection, so use your own face- cloth and towel in order to stop its spread around your house- hold, and stop wearing your contact lenses.

If your conjunctivitis is a reaction to an allergy, drops are available; although, to be most effective, these need to be used over a period of time. Ask your pharmacist if you know you are likely to suffer during the hay fever season.

Why is there a big risk for contact lense wearers?

“The mantra with contact lenses is: ‘If in doubt, take them out’.”

“In particular, if you are a soft contact lens wearer, you need to be exceedingly careful when putting eye drops in your eyes, because the preservative in some drops doesn’t mix at all well with soft lenses.

“The mantra with contact lenses is: ‘If in doubt, take them out’,” says Dr Blakeney. “If in doubt ask your contact lens practitioner.”

An eye condition called dry eye is also very common. “Our eyes tend to dry out more as we get older,” says Dr Blakeney. “This can be hormonal, but it can be caused by blepharitis, which is inflammation of the eyelids. This can cause the glands producing tears to be- come blocked.”

Blepharitis can be managed with lid hygiene, such as unblocking the glands with a warm compress and gently cleaning the lids. Lubricating drops may be prescribed to relieve the symptoms of dry eye.