My freesias are in full bloom in our garden and there’s a light coating of yellow pine pollen on my car. That can only mean one thing. Spring has finally sprung! And as a community pharmacist it also means the hay fever and conjunctivitis season has arrived.
If you’ve got conjunctivitis you’ll have red, irritated eyes that feel gritty, sore and uncomfortable. They might also be itchy, sticky and weepy. Conjunctivitis comes in three main types. With major colds and the flu hitting the Hibiscus Coast quite seriously right now, many in our community will develop infective conjunctivitis. However you don’t actually need a cold or flu to catch this. Given the amount of pollen I see around at the moment, it is no surprise that allergic conjunctivitis is prevalent too. There is also a further type called irritant conjunctivitis caused by, of course, irritants.
Infectious conjunctivitis can be caused by a bacteria or virus. These infections can be very contagious. You’ll need to take special care not to spread the infection to your other eye or to other people. The infection should clear within a week if left untreated. However the need for antibiotics for bacterial infections should be considered in certain circumstances, to prevent complications or to prevent the spread of infection to other people.
The antibiotic Choramphenicol is available from pharmacies and your pharmacist can advise you whether this would be the most appropriate treatment for you.
Allergic conjunctivitis may be due to triggers such as pollen or some people suffer from it all year round due to house dust or pet fur. Antihistamine eye drops are useful in the treatment of allergic conjunctivitis and/or oral antihistamines.
If there is pain in your eye, or if your vision is affected, or your eyes are more sensitive to light than usual then you will need to see a doctor.
Here are some tips for general eye care for conjunctivitis:
• Wash your hands before and after using eye drops or touching your eyes
• Apply a warm flannel to your eyes to clean away any discharge
• Apply normal saline to wash and soothe your eyes twice daily
• Use lubricant eye drops 4 to 8 times daily to soothe your eyes
• Well I’m off to pick my freesias and inhale a bit of that spring air. Just as long as I don’t get too much pollen at the same time!