Con­junc­tivi­tis a com­mon prob­lem

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR BODY -

Con­junc­tivi­tis is a com­mon con­di­tion which can be en­coun­tered all year round. It is as­so­ci­ated with spring and the hay fever sea­son as well as the colder win­ter months ac­com­pa­ny­ing head colds and in­fec­tions.

The symp­toms of con­junc­tivi­tis in­clude red ir­ri­tated eyes that may feel gritty, sore and un­com­fort­able. They can also be itchy, sticky and weepy.

Con­junc­tivi­tis is caused by an in­flam­ma­tion of the con­junc­tiva, the thin mem­brane that pro­tects the white of the eye and in­side the eye­lids. When you visit your phar­macy with these symp­toms your Self Care phar­ma­cist will ask ques­tions to de­ter­mine the cause of the con­junc­tivi­tis and will give you ad­vice about which eye drops are most suit­able. Causes of con­junc­tivi­tis can be di­vided into three groups, be­ing in­fec­tion, al­lergy or an ir­ri­tant.

In­fec­tions can be caused by bac­te­ria or viruses. These in­fec­tions can be very con­ta­gious. Spe­cial care needs to be taken not to spread the in­fec­tion to the other eye or other peo­ple. The in­fec­tion should clear within a week when left un­treated. How­ever, the need for an­tibi­otics for bac­te­rial in­fec­tions should be con­sid­ered in cer­tain cir­cum­stances, to pre­vent com­pli­ca­tions or to pre­vent the spread of in­fec­tion to other peo­ple. Your Self Care Phar­ma­cist can ad­vise on the most ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ment for you.

Al­ler­gic con­junc­tivi­tis or non-in­fec­tive con­junc­tivi­tis may be due to sea­sonal trig­gers such as pol­lens or may be from other el­e­ments that are around all year round such as house dust or pet fur. An­ti­his­tamine eye drops are use­ful in the treat­ment of al­ler­gic con­junc­tivi­tis for itchy and ir­ri­tated red eyes and oral an­ti­his­tamines that you can take are also avail­able. It is help­ful to try and iden­tify the cause of the al­lergy, so that it can be avoided if pos­si­ble.

Ir­ri­tant or chem­i­cal con­junc­tivi­tis can have a me­chan­i­cal or chem­i­cal cause, such as for­eign ob­jects or chlo­rine from the swim­ming pool. This type of con­junc­tivi­tis usu­ally clears when the cause is re­moved.

If there is pain in your eye, or if your vi­sion is af­fected, or your eyes are more sen­si­tive to light than usual then your op­tometrist or doc­tor needs to be con­sulted. Other sit­u­a­tions where your op­tometrist or doc­tor need to be con­sulted are for chil­dren un­der two years of age, con­tact lens wear­ers who have a greater risk of se­ri­ous eye in­fec­tions and if symp­toms do not im­prove with treat­ment or worsen af­ter a few days.

Some help­ful tips for gen­eral eye care for con­junc­tivi­tis:

• Wash your hands and dry well be­fore us­ing eye drops and af­ter touch­ing your eyes

• Ap­ply a clean flan­nel soaked in warm wa­ter to the eye to clean away any dis­charge be­fore in­still­ing eye drops

• Ap­ply nor­mal sa­line to wash and soothe the eyes

• Use lu­bri­cant eye drops 4 to 8 times daily to soothe eyes

• Your eye drops are just for your use only, not to be shared with other peo­ple

• Use the eye drops as di­rected and in­stil only the num­ber of drops rec­om­mended

• Pre­vent the spread to other peo­ple by not shar­ing face cloths, tow­els or make-up

• Dis­card eye drops one month af­ter open­ing the bot­tle

Your Self Care phar­ma­cist will be able to as­sist you to iden­tify if you have con­junc­tivi­tis and rec­om­mend ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ment.

Pre­pared by Phar­macy Self Care, Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal So­ci­ety of NZ Inc.

Redand ir­ri­tated eyes are a symp­to­mof con­junc­tivi­tis.

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