The term ‘-itis’ in a medical word means ‘inflammation’. Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the covering of your eye and inside your eye lids. This can be caused by an infection or by an allergy.
If you have itchy, red, watery eyes this may be an allergy rather than an infection. If you are not sure if you have an allergy or an infection, ask to talk to your pharmacist. They can ask you a few questions to help decide. You would not want to leave an eye infection untreated; but if it’s an allergy then you need something completely different to treat your eyes. You need to be sure of the cause, so you can use the correct medicine.
For allergy eyes (known as allergic conjunctivitis) symptoms include eyes that are:
An infection can often start in one eye then spread to the other. For an allergy it is more likely to be both eyes at once.
Allergic conjunctivitis can be just one of the symptoms for people with hayfever. If you get hayfever, you are likely to have itchy throat and runny nose as well as the watery, itchy eyes. For some people the symptoms are not so easy to describe and there can be confusion between hayfever and a cold. Do talk to your pharmacist to ensure you are using the best treatments for you or your family.
November through to February are usually the highest pollen count in NZ and this is generally considered to be ‘pollen season’. Wind pollenated plants like grasses have lots of pollen blowing in the wind and are most likely to be the cause of an allergy like allergic conjunctivitis. Even during ‘allergy season’ some days may be better than others. Cool still days will have less pollen and dust blowing around than dry, windy days.
Some allergies are all year round and may be due to:
You may also experience short term allergic conjunctivitis if they get something in your eye like shampoo.
Self-care and medications
See your doctor immediately if your eye is very painful or if you are having trouble seeing clearly. There are lots of different causes for eye problems and some require immediate attention to prevent permanent loss of vision.
Written by: Linda Caddick
This blog provides general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The information contained in the blog and in any linked materials, are not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.
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