Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Man wearing dust mask and ear defenders.

Man wearing dust mask and ear defenders.
beginning of content

Eye care

3-minute read

Here are some things you can do to care for, and help protect, your eyes.

Use eye protection

If you work in an environment where there’s a risk of getting something in your eyes (such as dust, wood chips, metal fragments or chemicals), protect your eyes by wearing a face visor or a pair of wrap-around goggles. You may also want to ask your employer to provide protective clothing.

It is also a good idea to wear eye protection at home when using garden equipment, cleaning or working with chemicals.

Protect your eyes from UV light

Ultraviolet light can lead to cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Wear sunglasses with good UV protection and a sun hat.

Clean hands

Avoid touching your eyes with dirty hands. This will reduce the risk of you getting an infection. It is a good idea to wash your hands with warm soapy water before and after touching your eyes.

Don’t rub your eyes

Try to avoid rubbing or scratching your eyes as this can lead to an infection.

Avoid triggers

If your eye discomfort is triggered by allergies, try to avoid the cause of your allergic reaction. Common triggers include fur, dust, pollen and certain foods. Wear sunglasses outside to avoid pollen getting into your eyes.

Don’t share personal items

Avoid sharing things like towels, face washers or make-up as this could pass on an infection. Use your own personal items and try to make sure no one else uses yours.

Cleaning your eyes

Any eye discharge should be gently cleaned from the eye area using a cotton wool pad soaked in water. Use a different pad for each eye. Always wipe from the corner of the eye (nearest the nose) outwards to prevent cross-contamination of any infection into the other eye.

Soothing your eyes

A cold compress may soothe your eyes. A clean damp face washer that has been submerged in very cool water is ideal.

Contact lenses

Take care when inserting and removing contact lenses from your eyes. Always follow the instructions from your optometrist when cleaning your lenses and avoid wearing them for long periods of time. Take them out before you sleep and always wash your hands before touching your lenses.

Sore eyes and contact lenses

If you have sore eyes you should remove your contact lenses and leave them out until all signs and symptoms of the infection or irritation have gone. Infections and irritations caused by contact lenses can be serious and you should see your optometrist as soon as practical.

Avoid looking directly at the sun

Looking directly at the sun may cause damage to your eyes because they are sensitive to the strong ultraviolet rays of the sun. If you’re outside on a sunny day try wearing sunglasses to help minimise contact between your eyes and the sun’s rays.

Eye tests

Optometrists recommended that you have an eye test every two years. If you have diabetes, are over 60 or have a family history of eye conditions, talk to your optometrist.

Diabetes

Having diabetes can put you at a higher risk of developing eye conditions. Have regular eye tests and always ensure that your blood sugar levels and blood pressure are stable and properly controlled. If you smoke and have diabetes you have an increased risk of developing eye problems.

Smoking

Smoking is linked to several eye conditions including cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, thyroid eye disease and general eye irritations. If you smoke try to cut down or quit. Call the Quitline on 13 7848 or talk to your pharmacist or doctor.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: November 2017

Recommended links

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Eye care - optometrists - Better Health Channel

A standard eye examination with an optometrist includes a screening for all common eye diseases, such as glaucoma and cataracts.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Eye care: Dr Joe Kosterich | HealthEngine Blog

Looking after your eyes involves a range of measures to promote healthy eyes, including eye tests, wearing sunglasses and wearing contact lenses or glasses.

Read more on HealthEngine website

Eye care | Vision Australia. Blindness and low vision services

Have regular eye check-upsRegular eye check-ups are recommended for people without eye diseases or specific risk factors. Examinations with a registered eye care practitioner (optometrist or ophthalmologist) are recommended every second year.

Read more on Vision Australia website

Looking After Your Eyes

Looking After Your Eyes This fact sheet provides information on diabetes and eye care

Read more on Diabetes Australia website

Optometrist or Ophthalmologist: How to Choose the Right Eye Doctor | HealthEngine Blog

When it comes to eye problems, everyone knows that they need to consult with a specialist

Read more on HealthEngine website

The human eye anatomy & functions - Fred Hollows

Eyes are important organs that help us navigate our way through the world. Learn more about how eyes work and how eye diseases affect our sight.

Read more on Fred Hollows Foundation website

Red eye - myDr.com.au

Red eye is the term used when irritation or infection causes the eye to be red, itchy, watery and feel gritty. It's sometimes known as a 'bloodshot eye'.

Read more on myDr website

The National Trachoma Program | Fred Hollows

Fred wanted trachoma eradicated from Australia. In the 1970's, he led a medical program to visit over 100,000 people in remote Australia. Learn more.

Read more on Fred Hollows Foundation website

Diabetes Eye Health Guide | Fred Hollows

The Diabetes Eye Health Guide is a practical & informative document developed for primary health professionals on managing diabetic retinopathy.

Read more on Fred Hollows Foundation website

Eye floaters - Better Health Channel

Some eye floaters look like small dots, while others appear like threads or little hairy clumps.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo