HealthSheets™


Conjunctivitis Caused by Irritation

Woman leaning head back and pulling gently down on lower eyelid. Other hand is holding eyedrops bottle over eye.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe eye drops to help relieve symptoms.
Conjunctivitis may be caused by allergies or other irritants. This includes eye drops. Most eye drops contain chemicals (preservatives) that may irritate your eyes. The problem can keep coming back. This can lead to an eye infection. Treatment involves relieving your symptoms and avoiding the irritant. If you have an infection, it will be treated.

Allergies

Grass, pollen, dust, mold, and animals are common causes of allergies. They can make your eyes red, watery, and itchy. In most cases, both eyes are affected.

Treatment

The best way to control an allergy is to avoid its source. Cold compresses and eye drops can help reduce the swelling. They can also help relieve redness and itching. If your allergy is severe, your health care provider may prescribe eye drops or oral medicines. Symptoms may take several weeks to clear up.

Other irritants

Pollution, smoke, contact lenses, and makeup can irritate your eyes. Your eyes can get red, sore, puffy, and watery. One or both eyes may become irritated.

Treatment

The best thing to do is avoid the irritant. Artificial tears can help flush out the eye and lubricate the surface. Your provider may also prescribe eye drops to reduce swelling and relieve redness. In some cases, you may have to stop wearing contact lenses or eye makeup.

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