Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is swelling and irritation in the eye. It affects the tissue that covers the eye and lines the inner surface of the eyelid. This tissue is called conjunctiva.

  • Causes

    There are many causes of conjunctivitis including:

    • Viral infection

    • Bacterial infection, such as
      staphylococcus
      or
      streptococcus

    • Allergic reaction, usually related to
      seasonal allergies

    • Chemical irritation caused by:

      • Air pollutants
      • Soap
      • Smoke
      • Chlorine
      • Make-up
      • Other chemicals

    Both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are highly contagious.

  • Definition

    Conjunctivitis is swelling and irritation in the eye. It affects the tissue that covers the eye and lines the inner surface of the eyelid. This tissue is called conjunctiva.

    Eye with Conjunctivitis
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  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. The doctor will examine your eye. If there is discharge from your eye, it may be tested. The discharge will help find the cause of the conjunctivitis.

  • Prevention

    To decrease your chance of conjunctivitis:

    • Do not share makeup or eye drops with anyone else.
    • Avoid sharing towels, washcloths, pillows, and handkerchiefs,
    • Wash your hands frequently. Keep your hands away from your eyes.
    • Clean contact lenses daily. Never sleep with them unless approved by your eye doctor.
    • In case of allergic conjunctivitis, avoid the allergy causing substances and irritants.

    Your doctor may recommend other prevention methods, depending on the cause.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your risk of conjunctivitis include:

    • Contact with a person who has conjunctivitis
    • Sharing towels, linens, or other objects (even doorknobs) with an infected person
    • Exposure to chemical or environmental irritants
    • Contact lenses
      , especially if contacts are not cleaned and stored properly
    • Age: more common in children
    • Seasonal allergies or contact with known allergens

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms include:

    • Red, watery eyes
    • Swollen inner eyelids
    • Scratchy feeling in the eyes
    • Itchy eyes
    • Pus-like or watery discharge
    • Swelling of the eyelid

    Conjunctivitis will usually clear up within 2-14 days. If conjunctivitis is caused by a seasonal allergy, it may continue throughout the season. If it is caused by a non-seasonal allergy, it may continue to occur year round.

    Note:
    These symptoms can sometimes indicate a more serious medical problem. If you develop these or any other symptoms, see your doctor.

  • Treatment

    If you wear contacts, avoid wearing contact lenses until the conjunctivitis has cleared.

    Treatment will depend on the cause of the conjunctivitis: