Conjunctivitis

What

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, transparent layer that lines the inner eyelid and covers the white part of the eye.

Symptoms

Common symptoms of conjunctivitis are red watery eyes, inflamed inner eyelids, blurred vision, a scratchy feeling in the eyes and, sometimes, a pus-like or watery discharge. Conjunctivitis can sometimes develop into something that can harm vision so you should see your optometrist promptly for diagnosis and treatment.

Cause

There are three main types:

  • Infectious is caused by a virus, bacteria or other contagion.
  • Allergic is your body’s response to pollen, cosmetics, animals, fabrics etc.
  • Chemical irritants such as air pollution, dust, noxious fumes and chlorine in swimming pools etc, are also common causes.

Treatment

A simple way to treat allergic or chemical conjunctivitis is to avoid the cause. If that does not work after examination and diagnosis, your optometrist may prescribe certain eye drops which relieve discomfort and aid resolution.

Infectious conjunctivitis caused by bacteria can be treated with antibiotic eye drops. If the source is viral,  antibiotics will not be a suitable treatment.  The solution is your own body’s immune system.

Prevention

To control the spread of infectious conjunctivitis, you should keep your hands away from your eyes, thoroughly wash your hands before applying eye medications and do not share towels, washcloths, cosmetics or eye drops with others.

Contact lens wearers should avoid wearing their lenses and ensure all cases and lenses are thoroughly disinfected.

Eye problems can grow rapidly from minor irritations to a serious concern so we advise you to contact us for advice.  We have emergency appointments available every day and our experience is that self medication or just ignoring the problem almost always makes matters worse in the long run. 

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