It’s often said that eyes are the windows to a person’s soul but they are also our window onto the world. Except if you’re one of the many Australians who lose part or all of their vision every 65 minutes. Maintaining good eye health should be a priority for all.
One of the most common eye problems are red and dry eyes. Redness and dryness are symptoms of many eye conditions. Some of these conditions are not serious, but others are serious and may affect eyesight.
A red eye can be a sign of eye inflammation. The most common cause of red eye(s) is conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis can be caused by allergy, irritation or infection. The treatment of eye redness depends on its cause and can include:
- decongestant eye drops to reduce redness
- antihistamine eye drops to relieve redness and itching
- antibiotic eye drops to treat bacterial (not viral) conjunctivitis.
Dry eyes can be caused by:
- not producing enough tears
- poor quality tears
- tears not staying in the eyes long enough
- a low blinking rate (e.g. when reading or using a computer).
Dry eyes can be treated by lubricating eye drops, gels and ointments as well as resting the eyes, avoiding bright light, an eye bath, or a warm or cool compress.
To prevent red eyes and dry eyes:
- Wear wrap-around sunglasses when outside in bright light, windy, dry or allergy conditions.
- Wear eye protection when swimming or working with machines and chemicals.
- Try to find and avoid allergy triggers.
- Do not rub your eyes.
- Avoid blowing air in your eyes (e.g. hair dryers, fans, car heaters).
- Blink more often to relieve dryness.
- Take regular breaks when reading or using a computer.
- Use good lighting.
- Do not wear contact lenses if you have an eye infection.
- Limit alcohol.
- Avoid smoke (e.g. cigarette smoke).
Your local pharmacy is your health destination. Doctors, pharmacists and optometrists can help find the cause of red eyes or dry eyes and advise on treatment. Your pharmacist at Berwick Pharmacy can help you to select the right treatment for minor eye conditions like conjunctivitis and red eye. Some eye drops and ointments can be obtained from a pharmacy without a prescription. Your pharmacist will always refer you to a doctor if they feel a condition requires more attention.
Regular testing from birth encourages good eye health and helps to avoid permanent damage and vision loss.
If you notice any changes in your vision, or have any concerns, you should see your doctor, ophthalmologist or optometrist immediately. Your local GP or optometrist can give you a referral to an ophthalmologist for testing.