This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

The docbot will see you now

10 tips for dealing with red eye

1 Always be suspicious if the redness is unilateral – most conjunctivitis is bilateral.

1 Always be suspicious if the redness is unilateral – most conjunctivitis is bilateral.

2 But conjunctivitis caused by a foreign body may be unilateral – so look.

3 The exudate from conjunctivitis may cause blurring, but this should clear on blinking.

4 So blink-resistant blurring is not conjunctivitis.

5 Always avoid giving steroids if there could be an infection.

6 Don't be proud – if you are in any doubt, seek a second opinion. Delay may lead to blindness.

7 An itchy eye is usually caused by allergy, not infection.

8 Show patients and parents how to instil eye drops or ointment – they may never have done it before.

9 Some 50% of cases of conjunctivitis are bacterial, and 50% are viral.

10 Clinical trials show that 64% of people prescribed placebo for conjunctivitis are symptom free by two to five days.

Professor David Haslam is president of the RCGP

Rate this article 

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Have your say