Never buy anything to put into your eyes. If you have any eye symptoms which persist then see a doctor.
Having damned a multimillion-pound market in twenty words let me explain why.
There are many reasons why your eyes may be red, sticky, sore, itchy or painful. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred it is possible to treat a minor eye problem quickly and easily with a bottle of drops or a tube of eye ointment but on the hundredth occasion such simple treatment will not solve the problem. And if expert advice from an opthalmic surgeon is not sought on that one occasion the sight may be damaged permanently. It’s a risk that just is not worth taking.
Of course, there will be many times when eye symptoms will clear up quickly and without any treatment being needed. If you have been sitting in a dry, dusty atmosphere – perhaps thick with cigarette smoke – and your eyes become red and sore as a result, they will quickly return to normal when you get out of the dust and smoke. If you have sore, itchy, red eyes which get worse when you’re out in the open in the pollen season then you may simply be exhibiting signs of hay fever. Some people don’t sneeze or get any nasal symptoms at all. These eye symptoms can be relieved by avoiding the open air when the pollen count is at its highest and by wearing sunglasses . If neither of these precautions are practicable, however, then see a doctor.
Eye infections are extremely common. The usual symptoms of conjunctivitis (an infection of the conjunctiva – the thin membrane which lines the eyelids and covers the eyeball) are a grittiness in the eye which usually feels as though there is something in it, and a stickiness which is worse on waking. It may sometimes seem as though the eyelids are glued together. If gently bathing the eyes in clean warm water doesn’t clear the infection away then a doctor can prescribe the appropriate treatment. Conjunctivitis is extremely infectious and it is important not to use the same face cloth or towel on an uninfected eye. If you do the infection will spread. It can quite quickly affect all the members of a household if a communal towel is used.
Styes are small, infected spots which occur around the eyes. Any pus which comes out should be wiped away carefully and the whole area bathed with clean warm water. If you use an eye bath do make sure that it is sterilized properly after use. Put it in boiling water. If it isn’t heat resistant and it cracks then you’re probably better off without it anyway. A stye which doesn’t get better and go away needs to be seen by a doctor. Don’t try treating it at home.
There is one other common eye problem that can be cured without any treatment. It’s one that mostly affects women since it’s relatively unusual for men to use eye makeup. If the eye becomes red and itchy and you use a lot of eye makeup or have recently changed to a different brand, then try leaving off eye makeup altogether for a few days. If the problem clears up you’ve found the cause. The solution is obvious. There are, incidentally, cosmetic products available which are specially formulated for women who tend to develop allergic rashes to ordinary products.
Eye drops, lotions and ointments
Phenylephrine hydrochloride (the product so popular among the manufacturers of cold remedies) is a common constituent of eye remedies. It constricts the dilated blood vessels in a red eye and so reduces the amount of redness; it also helps to dilate the pupil. The following products contain this drug: Degest, Eyeclear Eye Drops, Eyesootbe Eye Lotion, Optabs and Steri-fresh. These products may be safe for very short-term use but they become dangerous when reapplied again and again as the effect wears off and the redness recurs. Optabs also contain adrenalin to reduce conjunctival congestion. Murine Eye Drops contain naphazoline hydrochloride which has a similar effect and Collyre Bleu Laiter contains naphazoline nitrate.
By far the biggest-selling eye care preparations in Britain are Optrex Eye Lotion and Optrex Eye Ointment which contain a number of antiseptics. Optrex Eye Lotion contains witch hazel, boric acid, salicylic acid, chlorbutol and zinc sulphate. Optrex Eye Ointment contains gramicidin and aminacrine hydrochloride. A third Optrex product called Optone Eye Drops contains witch hazel, borax and chlorbutol.
Other products which contain mixtures of astringents, disinfectants and antiseptics include Boots Eye Drops, Lanes Eye Lotion, Pennine Eye Drops and Visimax Eye Lotion.
I do not recommend any of these products for the reasons I have already explained at the beginning of this section.
All eye products should, if used at all, be used strictly according to the instructions since overuse can be hazardous. Most manufacturers warn customers not to use eye drops, ointments or lotions if symptoms persist. In the absence of more specific instructions I suggest that no eye symptoms should be treated for more than five days without expert advice being sought.
Lyteers is a well-known artificial tear solution for those who find real tears unobtainable and fresh water uncomfortable. Finally, there are the Simhealtb Eyes Right Capsules which contain vitamin A .
Patients with artificial eyes should normally consult their own doctor or an ophthalmic specialist if they have any problems. Special lubricants (such as Sol pro) are available for use with artificial eyes.
These days more and more people are wearing contact lenses instead of spectacles. Lenses can be divided into two main categories – soft or hard – according to the materials from which they are manufactured. There are a number of products available for use with contact lenses while they are in the eye and when they need cleaning.
I would strongly suggest that readers should accept the advice of their opticians when choosing products for use with contact lenses. For the sake of completeness I have compiled a list of some of the products which are available.
Products for the care, cleansing and storing of soft contact lenses include Barnes-Hind Cleaner No. 4, Hexidin, Hjdrocare Protein Remover, Hydrosoak, Hydrosol, Monoclens, Pliacide, Pliagel, Salette, Steri-lette, Steri-Sal, Steri-soft and Steri-solv.
For cleaning, wetting, soaking and storing hard contact lenses the following products are available: Barnes-Hind Cleaning and Soaking Solution, Barnes-Hind Comfort Drops, Barnes-Hind Gel Clean, Barnes-Hind One Solution, Barnes-Hind Wetting Solution, Blink N Clean, Clean-N-Soak, Contacare, Contactasoak, Contactasol, LC 65, Lens-Mate, Soakare, Soquette, Steri-clens, Steri-soak, Titan, Total and Transol.
When to see a doctor
You should see a doctor as soon as possible if you lose your eyesight temporarily or permanently, partially or totally. You should also see a doctor as a matter of some urgency if you have a severe pain in or around the eye.’