Most of us will experience problems with our eyes at least once in our lives. Although these problems can recur, they are usually easily treated and only last for a short time.
Read on to find out more about some of the most common, short-term eye problems.
Conjunctivitis is a very common condition, sometimes referred to as “pink eye”.
If you have conjunctivitis, the tissue that covers the front of your eye (your conjunctiva) becomes inflamed. This can make your eye watery and feel itchy. Your eye may also become swollen and produce watery or sticky discharge.
There are three types of conjunctivitis, each with a different cause:
- Irritant conjunctivitis – caused by something irritating the eye, such as chlorine or a loose eyelash.
- Infective conjunctivitis – caused by a bacterial or viral infection.
- Allergic conjunctivitis – an allergic reaction to a foreign substance, such as dust mites or pollen.
Conjunctivitis usually clears up within a couple of weeks without the need for treatment. In some cases antibiotic eye drops or anti-allergy (antihistamine) medications will be needed to treat conjunctivitis.
A stye is a painful lump on your eyelid. It is a small abscess (collection of pus) caused by a bacterial infection, which can make your eye and eyelid red and your eyes watery.
Although a stye can be painful and unsightly, it often doesn’t require treatment. The abscess usually bursts of its own accord to release the pus. The stye may be eased by gently placing a clean, warm flannel on your eyelid to encourage the release of the pus. However, you must never squeeze or try to burst the stye.
If you have a stye that persists or is very painful, you should visit your eye care professional for further advice.
There are a number of reasons why eyes can become red. If your eyes are red you should visit your eye care practitioner to get a confirmed diagnosis. Some of the more common causes include:
- Conjunctivitis (see above)
- Dry eye symptoms (see below)
- Eye allergies
- Dry eye syndrome
Red eyes can also be caused by poor contact lens hygiene. This is just one of the many reasons why you should always follow your eye care practitioner’s recommendations for contact lens wear and care. For more information see our article about cleaning and caring for your contact lenses.
If you wear contact lenses and your eyes are red, you should remove your lenses immediately and seek the advice of your eye care practitioner
Your eye care practitioner is the best source of advice to find a cause and appropriate treatment for red eyes.
Dry eye symptoms
Dry eye symptoms can occur if you spend time in heated, air-conditioned or windy environments, or after prolonged computer use. This can be accompanied by blurred vision.
Changing your environment and taking regular breaks from the computer screen is likely to help your eyes feel less dry and more comfortable.
If the problem persists, seek the advice of your eye care practitioner. Your eye care practitioner is the best source of information to find a cause and a treatment for dry eye symptoms. He or she will also be able to look into the possibility of any underlying condition that may be causing your eyes to feel dry.
If your dry eye symptoms do not have an environmental cause, it may be that you have a more long-term condition called dry eye syndrome. Visit our page about long-term eye conditions to find out more about dry eye syndrome.