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The eye conditions you’ll tend to encounter in the pharmacy are most likely to be minor, such as conjunctivitis, blepharitis, styes and dry eye.

1. Conjunctivitis

This term applies to any condition causing redness and inflammation of the conjunctiva. There are three common types:

  • Infective conjunctivitis

It is caused by a bacterial or viral infection and can be contagious. The whites of the eyes will look pink and the eyelids may be red and swollen. Sufferers may also complain of a sticky, yellow coating or discharge on the eyelashes upon waking. One or both eyes may be affected.  

  • Allergic conjunctivitis

Symptoms occur because of an allergic reaction to pollen, dust mites, animal dander, etc. Both eyes are usually affected. Sufferers will complain of watery, itchy eyes and there may be
a stringy discharge.

  • Irritant conjunctivitis 

Caused by contact with substances that irritate the conjunctiva (e.g. shampoo, chlorinated water, smoke). Eyes will look red and feel tired, sore or irritated. Symptoms tend to resolve once the irritant is removed.

2. Styes

Usually caused by a bacterial infection, styes appear like a pimple on the outside or inside of the eyelid. They are fairly common and most resolve without treatment within a few days or weeks. A warm compress may be used to encourage the stye to release pus and heal more quickly.

3. Blepharitis

In blepharitis, the rims of the eyelids become inflamed, red and swollen. It can develop at any time, but is more likely in people over the age of 40. It can be caused by a bacterial infection or be a complication of another condition, such as seborrhoeic dermatitis or rosacea. Symptoms include itchy, sore eyelids, crusty eyelashes and eyelids that stick together upon waking. 

Blepharitis is not usually serious, but it can be a long-term, chronic condition. There is no cure, but establishing a daily eye-cleaning routine may help to control symptoms.