Treating Common Eye Problems

By Temma Ehrenfeld @Temmaehrenfeld
July 10, 2023
Treating Common Eye Problems

Treating common eye problems can sometimes be simple. It’s important not to ignore them, since vision affects almost everything you do. Learn more here.

Eye problems are particularly troublesome, since vision affects nearly everything you do. Here are the best treatments for the following common eye problems.





Your eyelids can become red and itchy if glands at the base of your eyelashes become clogged with oil. You may see flakes around your eyelashes.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a warm compress — a clean washcloth soaked in warm water and wrung out a little — can soothe your eyes. Close your eyes and let the cloth rest on them for at least a minute. You could also try soaking the cloth in diluted baby shampoo.

An ophthalmologist may use an electronic device to unclog your oil glands or prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointment.

Cluster or migraine headaches

Headaches often include eye pain, and your eye doctor can help you determine the cause. Light sensitivity, severe pain, and nausea suggest migraine. The Food and Drug administration has approved an electrical device you apply yourself.

Corneal ulcer

This problem is more common in areas of the southern United States, especially when young people swim or fall asleep wearing contact lenses. Gardening, or handling dirt for another reason, can introduce dirt into your eye.

If your eye is very painful, and has a discharge, you probably have a bacterial infection and need to see a doctor immediately. Untreated, an infection can cause blindness. Your doctor may have you apply an antibiotic every half hour even during the night. After 24 hours, you can apply antibiotics every two hours.

Within 48 hours of beginning treatment, you may start using a steroid. You should see improvement within a week.  


If the iris of your eye becomes inflamed because of a drug reaction, infection, autoimmune response, or injury, your eye may ache and become red and teary. You’ll need eye drops to apply steroid medication and to dilate your eyes to prevent complications. If an injury caused the problem, it usually goes away within two weeks.


Painful pressure inside your eyeball, or glaucoma, is treatable with daily eyedrops if it is caught early. Other options include outpatient laser surgery or other procedures, such as a trabeculectomy or implant for drainage. People with diabetes and people over 40 with a family history of glaucoma need more frequent eye checkups.


A bacterial infection around your eyelid, a sty can be very painful but also treatable at home. Use a warm compress or tea bag to soothe your eye, stay away from makeup and contact lenses, apply an antibiotic ointment, and massage the area gently.

Allergic conjunctivitis

Allergies can make you feel as if you have dirt in your eye or simply make your eyes itchy and red. Try over-the-counter allergy eyedrops or oral medication (antihistamines).

Dry eye

Dry eyes may bother you most on airplanes, in air-conditioning, or while riding a bike or staring at a computer screen. Common medications can make the problem worse. So can various illnesses. Try using over-the-counter tears if your underlying issue has been treated.

Photokeratitis (flash burns)

Too much sun can make your eyes burn. Use artificial tears, a cold washcloth, or pain relievers or antibiotics recommended by an eye doctor.

Corneal abrasion

A scratch on the surface of your cornea may hurt but heal on its own within three days. You may need an antibiotic ointment and a steroid to relieve inflammation.

Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

When the white part of your eye appears red or pink and it begins to ooze, you have conjunctivitis. The cause can be a virus or, less often, a bacterium.

See your doctor if symptoms continue after a few days; you might need prescription antibiotic eye drops.

Because pink eye is very infectious, stay away from other people and wash your hands frequently.

A warm, damp washcloth, artificial tears, and over-the-counter analgesics (such as ibuprofen or aspirin) will help. If the cause is a virus, it will clear up on its own within a few days.


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July 10, 2023

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN