Eye Care

The following are some common eye problems and a few ways to manage them in consultation with your primary care clinician. If these problems or conditions do not resolve or if symptoms become worse it is important to follow up with your provider or call the advice nurse for further instruction.


Conjunctivitis or "pinkeye" is one of the most common eye problems. Symptoms may include redness, itching or irritation, discomfort, clear to cloudy discharge, and occasionally sensitivity to bright light. The cause of conjunctivitis can be an allergic, bacterial, or viral infection. Antibiotic drops or ointment are used if the infection is bacterial. There is no treatment for viral infections. Antihistamines, either in eye drops or taken orally, may help treat conjunctivitis caused by allergic reactions to environmental irritants. It is important to avoid wearing contacts during treatment. Also, avoid sharing eye makeup and face towels. Frequent hand washing if you have a cold or working around children before touching your eyes is also an important way to help prevent eye infections.  

Hordeolum (stye)

A stye or hordeolum is a localized redness, swelling, and tenderness of the upper or lower lid margin (similar to a pimple). Hordeolums are usually caused by a bacterial infection (staphylococcal) of the Meibomian (oil) glands around the lashes. These infections are treated with hot compresses to the affected area several times a day (for 20 - 30 minutes 4 -5 times a day) to increase circulation and promote drainage. Antibiotics can also be used to treat infection. 


This is a lump or mass of the eyelid that results from chronic inflammation of a Meibomian gland. Chalazion in early stages are indistinguishable from hordeola, but when they heal they often form a hard non-tender lump within the eyelid. In early stages hot compresses are helpful, but bothersome residual lumps may require surgical removal by an ophthalmologist. 

Corneal Abrasions

Abrasions, scratches, or erosions of the surface of the cornea are often caused by over-wearing contacts or accidental scratches by a fingernail while removing soft contact lenses. Dust or dirt particles or other foreign bodies can also cause scratches to the cornea. Symptoms include pain, increased tearing, and light sensitivity. It is important to be examined to evaluate the extent of the abrasion. Antibiotics may be recommended and using sunglasses will help alleviate discomfort from light. You may be asked to return to the clinic every few days to make sure that this is healing. It will be extremely important not to wear your contacts until your abrasion is completely healed. 


Blepharitis is a chronic inflammation of one or both lid margins. Symptoms may include irritation, itching, swelling, burning, red-rimmed eyes, redness, scaling, and crust. Treatment includes scrubbing the lid margins with a cotton swab and a 50/50 mixture of baby shampoo and water. Hot compresses and antibiotic ointments may also help relieve symptoms.  


A yellow harmless nodule or growth on the sclera or white of the eye. Pinguecula usually occurs on the nasal side of the eye and is more common in people who have a lot of sun exposure. These growths may cause a mild discoloration or thickening of the eye tissue and are harmless. They can occasionally become inflamed. Wear protective eyewear when exposed to sun and wind. 


Dacryocystitis is an infection of the lacrimal sac (tear duct) due to obstruction along the duct. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and redness in the tear sac area. There can also be purulent discharge (pus) from the tear sac. Dacryocystitis is treated with antibiotics and warm compresses to the tear sac area.


  • Conjunctiva: the membrane lining the eye and eyelid
  • Cornea: the transparent anterior part of the eye
  • Iris: the circular pigmented membrane behind the cornea
  • Meibomian gland: secretory glands in the eyelid
  • Pupil: the opening in the center of the eye through which light enters
  • Sclera: the white outer coat of the eyeball

Treatment tips

  • Hot compresses: A hot water bottle filled with hot water and wrapped in a moist clean cloth can be used as a compress. If you don't have a hot water bottle, moisten a clean face cloth with hot water. Hold it against the affected area of the eye for 20 minutes 4 - 5 times a day. The cloth can be reheated by reapplying hot water.
  • Eye drops: Lean head back, look up, pull the lower lid out, and place drops in the lower lid sac. Blinking a few times will allow the drops to spread throughout the eye.
  • Eye ointment: Pull the lower lid out, squeeze out a 1 1/2-inch strip of ointment, and place inside the lower lid. The warmth of your eye will liquefy the ointment, blinking a few times will allow the ointment to spread.