Conjunctivitis is a common form of eye infection that affects both adults and children. It involves the inflammation of the conjunctiva which is the tissue lining the interior surface of the eyelid and serves as the exterior coating of the eye. The tissue is responsible for keeping the eyelid and eyeball moist.
The condition can be brought about by bacteria, viruses, allergens, irritants or sexually transmitted infections. Those that are caused by viruses, bacteria and sexually transmitted infection can rapidly spread to others, but not considered as a serious health risk if detected early.
The indications of conjunctivitis usually include the following:
- Increased tear production
- Reddening in the white part of the eye or interior eyelid
- Blurry vision
- Thick yellowish drainage that coats over the eyelashes, particularly after sleeping
- Itchy eyes
- Whitish or greenish drainage from the eye
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Burning sensation in the eye
Management of conjunctivitis
- Bacterial – antibiotics are given for the bacterial form of conjunctivitis. The antibiotic can be given as an ointment, eye drop or pills. The ointments or eye drops are applied to the eye 3-4 times throughout the day for 5-7 days.
- Viral – this type of conjunctivitis often results from a common cold. The condition can run its course and last from 4-7 days. The symptoms can be relieved with a cold compress and applying artificial tears.
- Irritants – utilize warm water for 5 minutes to wash the irritant from the eye. The condition should start to improve within 4 hours after washing out the irritant.
- Allergies – antihistamines can be prescribed by the doctor. Apply a cold compress on closed eyes to briefly alleviate the symptoms.
- Sexually transmitted infections – oral antibiotics are prescribed as treatment.
Spending time with an individual with conjunctivitis as well as wearing contact lenses increases the risk for developing the condition. Luckily, the outcome is relatively good with proper treatment. Proper hand washing can prevent the spread of the infection to others.