Patients usually come into the pharmacy with painful, red eyes due to one of two things, allergy or infection.


A minor eye infection known as a “sty” appears as a red swelling on the wet surface or the eyelid or under the eye, and this you may treat as below. A more serious infection called conjunctivitis occurs as a painful, gritty sensation and a discharge and is nearly always in both eyes.


Your eyes may be painful and red if you are suffering from hay fever. In this case you may have associated allergic symptoms.
Severe pain in and around the eye, with or without redness may be due to glaucoma and you should talk to your pharmacist.

Any child under 3 years suffering from sore eyes should be brought to the pharmacist or GP.




If your eye has been irritated for more than two days you should speak to your pharmacist or GP.
If you have tried something already; did you find it effective or has the situation worsened?
If you have diabetes you should go to your diabetic clinic or GP.

A sty may be treated using anti-bacterial drops and/or ointment. These are best used together, as the drops allow full use of the eyes during the day, while the ointment stays in contact longer, right through the night, preventing “sticky eyes” in the morning.


NOTE: if you wear contact lenses, do not wear them while you have an infection, these drops can damage your contact lenses and may not be used when contact lenses are in use.

The life of a sty is further shortened by bathing the eye with a good astringent (OPTREX), which contains witchazel to tighten the skin around the sty and squeeze it out. A sty in the eye is often a sign of being run down, and a good multivitamin should be considered (e.g. SONA MULTI-PLUS OR PHARMATON)

If you are suffering from hay fever (see hay fever section), a difficulty that may crop up is the allergy in the eyes, which causes redness, streaming and loss of vision. Anti-histamine eye drops are excellent in the treatment of this condition and in the prevention of its recurrence throughout the hay fever season.

For simple tired eyes, due to TV, study, the sun or a cold, we advise the use of OPTREX eye bath that soothes, cools and refreshes (especially in conjunction with the OPTREX EYE MASKS) the tired eyes. For contact lens wearers there are individually sealed single use drops called REFRESH to revive tired


Practical points to remember:

  • All preparations for use in the eye are sterile when opened. As a general rule many multiple use drops may only be used for up to 28 days after which time the preservative is no longer fully effective and bacteria may grow in these drops. Read the directions on the bottle and see whether it is necessary to replace the bottle every 28 days.
  • Use clean hands to keep the eyelid open to instil drops into the eye.
  • Do not touch the dropper off your eye as you can spread infection between the two eyes.