Eyes

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Keeping your eyes healthy

Eyes are something we frequently take for granted until we have a problem with them. And all of us, sometime in our life time will have a problem with our eyes. This could a bog standard eye infection or it could be a more serious problem which could affect our vision. Eye conditions are often simple, self-limiting and have very little by way of long term complications. Nevertheless, it is useful and reassuring to get eye issues checked out sooner rather than later as often there is a simple solution just by consulting a GP. Sometimes, you may need a specialist referral which can also be done for more complicated or recurring issues. 

At London Doctors Clinic, we can provide same-day appointments for you to see a doctor quickly at a location and time convenient to you. Typically, in just 15 minutes, we can take you through your symptoms, examine you and even dispense medication right there and then. If it requires a referral, this can be done right away too.

Eye problems can vary from just some inflammation, discharge, pain or redness to reduced vision or floaters in your vision or even loss of vision. Below are some common eye conditions where you might need to see a doctor.

Eyelid problems

Meibomian cyst 

These small, fluid-filled swellings are relatively common. They are also sometimes called a chalazion. They tend to happen in the eyelid itself unlike a stye. Usually they occur in the upper eyelid. It is possible to have just one or several at the same time. Tiny glands on the underside of the eyelid make a lubricant for the eye called meibum and when these glands get blocked for any reason, they can swell and cause a cyst. These lumps are usually relatively firm, painless and take a while to resolve. The cyst typically resolves on its own but can take 6 months sometimes to go away. If it isn’t causing any discomfort it is best to watch and wait. Hot compresses and massage are also helpful to drain the cyst. Antibiotic ointments and drops are not necessary as the cyst is rarely due to infective causes. If the size is bothering you or it has persisted for a long time, you can see a GP who can refer you to an ophthalmology specialist for a small procedure usually done under local anaesthetic. 

Stye 

Sties are different from cysts in that they tend to be due to an infection causing a blockage in an eyelash follicle. They tend to red, small and painful and they appear at the base of the eyelash. Usually they too resolve spontaneously with some rigorous eye hygiene such as cleaning twice a day with warm, salty water using a cotton bud and hot compresses. Antibiotic ointments may be useful, and your GP can prescribe this. Very rarely, do you need any further intervention but gently removing the eyelash can encourage the cyst to discharge and recover. 

Blepharitis 

This is a long-term, chronic condition of the rims of the eyelids. Inflammation causes them to become red and swollen causing discomfort and stinging in the eye. It is most often seen in the over 50s. It is not a serious condition but can be very uncomfortable. It is associated with dry eyes. Good eye hygiene and artificial eye drops are usually enough to prevent blepharitis.

Conjunctivitis 

This is a common condition where there is either a viral or bacterial infection of the lining between the eye and lower eyelid. Sometimes allergic reactions can also cause conjunctivitis. Redness, soreness and discharge are common symptoms. Usually the condition is self-limiting with gentle cleansing. Makeup, makeup brushes and contact lenses are causes of poor hygiene leading to infection. Often antibiotic drops or ointment are given to treat the condition.

Keratitis 

This is a condition where there is infection of the clear window covering the eye surface, the cornea. Commonly occurs after from a foreign body like contact lenses. This can be a serious condition and if there is a microbial infection, it can lead to permanent scarring and changes to the vision. Keratitis is painful, and the eye appears red. It can become increasingly painful if an ulcer develops on the eye surface. Antibiotic drops and local anaesthetic drops are the mainstay of treatment for keratitis. 

Corneal Abrasion

This is another painful condition affecting the cornea, which is a clear window on the eye surface. Abrasion means a small scratch, and this commonly occurs after trauma – from dust for instance, or a tree branch or a fingernail. The condition is very painful, can cause your eye to water profusely and can even make your eye a little light-sensitive. Usually abrasions get better on their own in 24-48 hours, but antibiotic drops are usually given to prevent infection and keratitis

So, if you are wondering whether your eye condition is something you should worry about or not and are wondering if there is a walk-in centre near me, there absolutely is! Our GPs can do a detailed assessment and treat you quickly, leaving you with less to worry about with no waiting.

 

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Written by Dr Preethi Daniel, General Practitioner & Clinical Director at London Doctors Clinic

Published: October 2018

Review date: October 2021