Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is typically caused by a common infection which causes the inflammation of the conjunctiva on the surface of the eye. The symptoms normally involve a discoloration of the eye which is sometimes accompanied by a slight discharge of a pus-like substance. As the irritation worsens over time, the small blood vessels at the front of the eye can become visible which causes the appearance of the eye to turn pink or red in colour. In the vast majority of cases, conjunctivitis will normally affect both eyes although the symptoms may noticeably be much worse in whichever eye becomes infected first. Although the condition can be uncomfortable and quite distressing for the sufferer, it is not usually harmful and it can normally go untreated for a quite some time without severe consequences.

What are the main causes?

Conjunctivitis can be causes by any one of a number of things and it can also be quite infectious. If the underlying cause is a bacterial infection then condition can become quite severe. The eyelids can become swollen and irritated and there may be a large amount of green or yellow discharge which turns into a dry, crusty substance that forms on the eyelashes. This type of eye problem can easily be passed on to other family members in situations where they share the same towel to dry the hands and face. Viral infections can also be responsible for conjunctivitis and if this is the case then there may be other conditions present such as a runny nose, sore throat and flu like symptoms. Other causes include Chlamydia trachomatis, chemical irritants or foreign bodies and many common allergies such as asthma, eczema and hay fever.

What are the main treatment options?

There are a number of available treatments for conjunctivitis eye problems which vary according to the underlying cause of the complaint. If the origin of the condition is bacterial then the patient will usually be prescribed a course of antibiotic eye drops or ointment. In order to be effective, the full course must be completed and it is also important that the eyes are cleaned regularly using cotton wool that has been soaked in clean water. Cases of viral conjunctivitis are typically more difficult to treat and the symptoms may persist for up to three months before disappearing of their own accord. If you are suffering from allergic conjunctivitis then the allergen itself will need to be identified before the correct method of treatment can be decided upon. This could include a combination of eye drops containing anti-inflammatory drugs, decongestants, antihistamines or steroids.