Eye Problems can affect anyone, however an injury to the eye area should always be checked by your GP or Optician to prevent further damage.
Familiarity with the symptoms of common eye conditions can help you to prevent an initially minor infection or problem from becoming a major health issue. It is essential that you have regular eye tests with your local optician to ensure a healthy lifestyle.
Read more on common eye problems outlined below.
A stye is a small, painful lump on the inside or outside of the eyelid. If you have a stye, your eye may also be watery and you may have a red eye or eyelid.
A stye; also called a hordeolum – usually only affects one eye, although it's possible to have styes in both eyes or to have more than one stye in the same eye. Your vision shouldn't be affected.
Types of stye
There are two types of stye. They are:
- external stye (external hordeolum) – a swelling that develops along the edge of your eyelid; it may turn into a yellow pus-filled spot that is painful to touch
- internal stye (internal hordeolum) – a swelling that develops on the inside of your eyelid; it's usually more painful than an external stye
An external stye (on the outside of your eyelid) may be caused by one of the following:
- an infection of an eyelash follicle (a small hole in your skin that an individual eyelash grows out of)
- an infection of the sebaceous (Zeis) gland – this gland is attached to the eyelash follicle and produces an oily substance called sebum, which lubricates the eyelash to prevent it drying out
- an infection of the apocrine (Moll) gland – this sweat gland empties into the eyelash follicle; the fluid joins the tear film that covers your eye and prevents the eye from drying out
An internal stye is caused by an infection of the meibomian gland. These glands are found on the eyelids and produce an oily liquid, which makes up part of the tear film that covers your eye.
What causes a stye?
Styes are usually caused by an infection with staphylococcus bacteria (staphylococcal infection).
Long-term blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids) may also increase the risk of developing a stye.
Styes are fairly common and you may have at least one or two during your lifetime. A stye is usually caused by an infection with staphylococcus bacteria. These bacteria often live on the skin without causing any harm.
Treating a stye
Most styes get better without treatment within a few days or weeks.
External styes may turn into yellow spots and release pus after three to four days. Internal styes are more painful and may last slightly longer.
- A warm compress (a cloth warmed with warm water) held against the eye will encourage the stye to release pus and heal more quickly.
Further treatment isn't usually needed unless your stye is very painful and isn't getting better. In this case, your GP may decide to drain it.
You should never attempt to burst a stye yourself.
Read more about treating a stye.
When to visit your GP
It's not always necessary to see your GP if you develop a stye. However, you should have a painful external stye checked.
Conjunctivitis is a common condition that causes redness and inflammation of the thin layer of tissue that covers the front of the eye (the conjunctiva).People often refer to conjunctivitis as red eye.
Other symptoms of conjunctivitis include itchiness and watering of the eyes, and sometimes a sticky coating on the eyelashes (if it's caused by an allergy).
Read more about the symptoms of conjunctivitis.
Conjunctivitis can affect one eye at first, but usually affects both eyes after a few hours.
WHAT CAUSES CONJUNCTIVITIS?
The conjunctiva can become inflamed as result of:
- a bacterial or viral infection - this is known as infective conjunctivitis
- an allergic reaction to a substance such as pollen or dust mites - this is known as allergic conjunctivitis
- the eye coming into contact with substances that can irritate the conjunctiva, such as chlorinated water or shampoo, or a loose eyelash rubbing against the eye - this is known as irritant conjunctivitis
Read more about the causes of conjunctivitis.
Conjunctivitis often doesn't require treatment as the symptoms usually clear up within a couple of weeks. If treatment is necessary, the type of treatment will depend on the cause. In severe cases, antibiotic eye drops can be used to clear the infection.
Irritant conjunctivitis will clear up as soon as whatever is causing it is removed.
Allergic conjunctivitis can usually be treated with anti-allergy medications such as antihistamines. If possible, avoid the substance that triggered the allergy.
It's best not to wear contact lenses until the symptoms have cleared up. Any sticky or crusty coating on the eyelids or lashes can be cleansed with cotton wool and water.
Washing your hands regularly and avoiding sharing pillows or towels will help prevent it spreading.
Read more about treating conjunctivitis.
SYMPTOMS of conjunctivitis
The symptoms of conjunctivitis will depend on the cause, but generally they include:
- eye redness: this happens as a result of the inflammation and widening of the tiny blood vessels in the conjunctiva (thin layer of cells that covers the front of the eyes)
- watering eyes: the conjunctiva contains thousands of cells that produce mucus and tiny glands that produce tears – inflammation causes the glands to become overactive, so that they water more than usual
Although only one eye tends to be affected at first, symptoms usually affect both eyes within a few hours.
see your doctor immediately if you have these symptoms:
The following symptoms could be the sign of a more serious eye condition:
- pain in your eyes
- sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- disturbed vision
- intense redness in one or both of your eyes
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your GP immediately. If this isn't possible, visit your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department
A watering eye (epiphora) is when tears flow out of the eye and roll down the cheek.
It usually happens if your tears don't drain away properly or too many tears are produced.
These problems can occur as a result of conditions such as conjunctivitis (eye inflammation), problems with your eyelids, an eye injury, a blocked tear duct or something irritating your eye, such as car fumes.
How tears work
Tears are constantly produced to keep the eyes moist. They are produced in small glands (lacrimal glands) located underneath your upper eyelids.
When you blink, tears are spread over the front of your eyes. The tears then pass into tiny channels known as canaliculi, before draining into a tear "sac" and flowing down the tear duct into your nose.
Watering eyes are the result of problems with this process.
Tear ducts are the passageways through which excess tears drain away. If they become blocked, it can cause your eyes to water.
In adults, this is usually the result of age, or sometimes inflammation, compression or injury.
A blocked tear duct can mean your tears will be unable to drain away and will remain in the tear sac. If this happens, the tears in the tear sac may become stagnant and a sticky liquid (mucus) may discharge through the tear duct opening into the eye.
You may also develop a swelling on the side of your nose, next to your eye, which is called a mucocele. If it becomes infected, it can cause a painful abscess to develop just below your eye which may need to be treated with antibiotics and possibly surgery.
Occasionally, the canaliculi (the narrow drainage channels on the inside of your eyes that lead into the tear ducts) can become blocked. This can be caused by inflammation or scarring due to a viral infection, or injury.
In addition, the lower eyelid can sometimes turn out (ectropion), causing the openings to the tear ducts to move away from the eye and making it difficult for the tears to reach them.
Blocked tear ducts in babies
Babies are sometimes born with under-developed tear ducts. The tear ducts can be completely or partially closed (congenital nasolacrimal duct obstruction) and can cause the baby’s eyes to water. Most blocked tear ducts in babies get better on their own before the baby is one year old.
In some cases, a blocked tear duct can lead to eye infections (conjunctivitis) in babies. Their eye may be red and have a sticky discharge coming from it. Take your baby to see your GP if you think they might have an eye infection.
Poor tear pump
A good blink ensures tears drain properly into the tear duct. People with a weak blink, for example due to a condition called Bell’s palsy (a type of facial paralysis) have problems with this which contributes to their watery eyes
There are several reasons why you might produce excess tears
Excessive tear production (reflex tearing) is usually the result of eye irritation. Extra tears are needed to wash away the substance irritating your eye.
Problems that can cause extra tears to be produced include:
When to see your GP
You should see your GP if you have persistent watering eyes, or any lumps or swelling around your eyes.
Who is affected?
You can get watering eyes at any age but it is most common in young babies (0-12 months) and people over the age of 60. It can affect one or both eyes and can cause blurred vision, sore eyelids and sticky eyes.
How are watering eyes treated?
Watering eyes do not always need to be treated. Treatment will depend on how severe the problem is and what is causing it.
If watering eyes aren't interfering with your life, you may choose not to have treatment.
You should make an appointment to see a GP if you are concerned by persistently watering eyes.
In cases where irritation is causing the eye to water, treatment involves removing the source irritation. For example, if an eyelash is growing into your eye, it can be removed.
If a watering eye is caused by a blocked tear duct, surgery may be needed to clear the blockage or create an alternative way for tears to drain away.
Blepharitis is a condition where the edges of the eyelids become inflamed (red and swollen).
It is a common condition, accounting for an estimated 1 in 20 eye problems reported to GPs. Blepharitis can develop at any age, but is more common in people over 40.
symptoms of blepharitis:
- itchy and sore eyelids
- eyelids that stick together and are difficult to open, particularly when you wake up
- eyelashes that become crusty or greasy
Read more about the symptoms of blepharitis.
What causes BLEPHARITIS?
Blepharitis can be caused by an infection with Staphylococcus bacteria, or as a complication of a skin condition, such as:
- seborrhoeic dermatitis – a condition that causes the skin to become oily or flaky
- rosacea – a condition that causes the face to appear red and blotchy
Blepharitis is not contagious.
Read more about the causes of blepharitis.
Blepharitis is usually a long-term condition. Most people experience repeated episodes, separated by periods without symptoms.
Blepharitis cannot usually be cured, but a daily eyelid-cleaning routine that involves applying a warm compress – gently massaging your eyelids and wiping away any crusts – can help control the symptoms.
More severe cases may require antibiotics that are either applied to the eye or eyelid directly, or taken as tablets.
Read more about treating blepharitis.
When to visit your GP
See your GP if you are unable to control the symptoms of blepharitis with simple cleaning measures alone
Your GP can usually diagnose blepharitis based on your symptoms and an examination of your eyes. They may refer you to an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) for further tests and treatment if you have severe symptoms, or initial treatment is unsuccessful.
NHS Eye Care Services - Bringing eye care closer to you.
NHS Coventry and Rugby have been working together with clinical teams and patient groups to develop a local eye care service to provide care closer to you.
As a result a service has been developed to provide treatment for common eye conditions such as red, sore or dry eyes in convenient locations by fully qualified staff. Once examined you will be treated for the condition and only be referred to hospital services when you really need to be.
The Eye Care Centres listed below in the attached leaflets have been approved on the basis that they have trained and qualified staff that can examine and treat eye conditions.
Why use an Approved Eye Care Centre?
- Fully qualified Opticians trained to examine, diagnose and treat eye conditions
- Convenient locations across Coventry and Rugby
- Free Parking
- Open 7 days a week
- Early morning and evening appointments – selected centres only
- Saturday and Sunday appointments – selected centres only