There are two sorts of conjunctivitis – allergic and infective.

Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by exposure to irritants such as pollens, animals or cigarette smoke. Both eyes tend to be affected at the same time and although they may become red and itchy, there is not usually any discharge.

Treatment of allergic conjunctivitis is to avoid the cause and to try to rinse the allergens out of the eye with frequent warm water bathing. Drops are also available from pharmacies.

Infective conjunctivitis is caused by an infection which may be viral or bacterial. This tends to start in one eye and then spread to the other. The eye is usually sore and often sticky, especially on waking.

Treatment of this is to wipe the eye gently with wet cotton wool, wiping from the nose side outwards to avoid blocking the tear duct. Be sure to wash your hands afterwards and to avoid sharing towels etc with other members of the family.

If the infection persists, antibiotic ointment may be required.

Contact the doctor when the surgery is open if:

  • eye irritation or redness persists for more than a day despite treatment outlined above

Contact the doctor immediately if:

  • you have severe pain in the eye

  • you think you may have something in the eye

  • your vision is affected beyond simple blurring caused by the discharge