Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or swelling of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the thin transparent layer of tissue that covers the inner surface of the eyelid and the white part of the eye.
“Pink or Red Eye” is commonly used words for conjunctivitis. It may affect one or both eyes. Some forms of conjunctivitis are highly contagious, can easily spread in schools, swimming pools or at home. Conjunctivitis can be viral or bacterial.
• Excessive watering and discharge
• Itching or burning sensation
• Swollen eyelids
• Pink or red discoloration of the white area
• Increased sensitivity to light
Allergic conjunctivitis occurs more commonly among people who already have seasonal allergies. They develop it when they come into contact with a substance that triggers an allergic reaction in their eyes.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is an infection most often caused by staphylococcal or streptococcal bacteria from your own skin or respiratory system. Insects, physical contact with other people, poor hygiene (touching the eye with unclean hands), or using contaminated eye makeup and facial lotions can also cause the infection. Sharing makeup and wearing contact lenses that are not your own or are improperly cleaned can also cause bacterial conjunctivitis.
Viral conjunctivitis is most commonly caused by contagious viruses associated with the common cold. It can develop through exposure to the coughing or sneezing of someone with an upper respiratory tract infection.
Contact lens wearers may need to temporarily stop wearing their lenses while the condition is active. Your doctor can tell you if this is necessary. If you developed conjunctivitis due to wearing contact lenses, your eye doctor may recommend that you switch to a different type of contact lens or disinfection solution.
While conjunctivitis is usually a minor eye infection, sometimes it can develop into a more serious sight threatening problem like corneal ulcer.
See your doctor if you think you have conjunctivitis. He or she can diagnose the cause and prescribe the proper treatment.
Dos and Don’ts:
• Don’t touch your eyes with your hands.
• Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.
• Change your towel and washcloth daily, and don’t share them with others.
• Discard eye cosmetics, particularly mascara.
• Don’t use anyone else’s eye cosmetics or personal eye-care items.
• Follow your eye doctor’s instructions on proper contact lens care.
You can soothe the discomfort of viral or bacterial conjunctivitis by applying warm compresses to your affected eye or eyes. To make a compress, soak a clean cloth in warm water and wring it out before applying it gently to your closed eyelids.
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