There are approx. four main types of eye problems: infection, allergic reaction, dry eyes and tired eyes.

Infection in the eyes may be caused by bacteria or viruses. Infective conjunctivitis is an infection of the conjunctiva (the lining of the eyeball). This infection makes the entire white of the eye redden as well as the inside of the eyelids, and the patient will experience a gritty sensation. Often the eye appears sticky on awakening. This infection is bacterial conjunctivitis. Viral conjunctivitis presents with a watery discharge and is often associated with symptoms of a cold and flu. Conjunctivitis frequently starts in one eye, but can spread to the other one.

Styes are caused by an infection at the base of an eyelash hair follicle and will appear as a red swelling on the inside margin of the eye lid. The swelling can spread to the area around the stye and can be very painful. Normally styes come to a head and burst, or shrink and get better within a day or two.

Blepharitis affects the eyelid and causes redness and irritation and in many cases both eyelids will be affected. It can be caused by an infection but in the majority of cases it affects patients who suffer with flaky skin conditions such as dandruff or seborrhoeic dermatitis.

Allergic reactions of the eye also result in conjunctivitis, that is, inflammation of the lining of the eye resulting in itchy, watery and red eyes. It is most common in people allergic to pollen but can be caused by some soaps and cosmetic products.

Dry eyes are caused by decreased tear production. Symptoms can also include tired, itchy, irritated eyes often with a burning sensation. It is important not to let the lid dry out and this condition can be treated with artificial tears bought in the pharmacy.

Tired eyes often result from looking at a computer screen for prolonged periods of time leading to discomfort and redness.

Watery eyes can develop as part of an allergy or if someone has been exposed to a smoky environment.
Propamidine is the only over the counter anti-bacterial and is available as an eye drop and ointment. It is effective in clearing up minor eye infections (conjunctivitis and styes) and is safe to use in adults and children. If no improvement is seen after two days however the patient should see their GP.

Naphazoline and Xylometazoline are products used to treat redness of the eye, irritation and inflammation.

Antazoline is an antihistamine and treats symptoms such as red, itchy and watery eyes associated with an allergy.

Hamamelis (witch hazel) is found in many products for soothing red tired eyes where there is no apparent cause.

Sodium Chromoglicate is used to treat and prevent allergic eye reactions especially in hay fever but they need to be used every day even if no symptoms are present. It can be used by adults and children.

Sodium hyaluronate often known as "artificial tears", is used to relieve eye dryness and soreness by its ability to bind and retain water. It moistens, soothes, and lubricates the surface of the eye, easing discomfort.

Carbomer, dextran, hypromellose, polyvinyl alcohol and white soft paraffin can be used by adults and children to treat dry eye conditions.
Visit your pharmacist or doctor:
  • If the patient is diabetic
  • Children under 12
  • If the patient has pain in the eye itself
  • If the patient has blurred or double vision
  • If the patient wears contact lenses and is suffering from an eye problem
  • If the patient has recently gotten something into the eye
  • If the patient is sensitive to light
  • If the patient has recurring or existing eye conditions e.g. glaucoma
  • If the patient has an eye problem that hasn't improves within a few days
Helpful Tips from Mulligans Pharmacy:
  • Hands should be washed before dealing with eye treatments.
  • Products should not be shared with others as this can cause infection to pass from one person to another
  • The tip of the dropper should never touch the eye as this can spread infection
  • Most eye drops should be disposed of 28 days after opening
  • Eye drops can damage contact lenses and patients should be instructed to remove their contact lenses during treatment for minor infections.
  • Eye ointments can cause temporary blurring and should be reserved for night time usage
  • Patients who suffer with styes might benefit from a course of multivitamins or diet analysis as it might be a sign they are run down or lacking nutrients. Visit our pharmacists, or book an appointment with
  • If no improvement is seen within 48 hours of treatment then patients should visit their GP
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The information provided is intended solely as a guide. Please seek the advice of your pharmacist to determine whether a particular service, medication, or treatment programme will be of value to you. Always check the dosage directions carefully on all medicines. Never combine medicines without consulting your doctor or pharmacist. All health facts and information contained herein should not be a substitute for medical advice. The use of this site is subject to our Terms & Conditions.
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