Definition: What Is Conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin transparent membrane of cells that covers the surface of the eye. It is manifested by red and watery eyes. It is a very common eye disorder.
Symptoms: How To Recognize Conjunctivitis?
The first clinical sign of conjunctivitis is redness in the affected eye or eyes. It is usually accompanied by pain, irritation, itching, burning and watery eyes. The patient may feel the sensation of having a small ball inside their eye. There is also an aqueous secretion in the eyes. This will be clear in the case of viral conjunctivitis and coloured and containing pus in the case of bacterial conjunctivitis. Many eye disorders, such as glaucoma, scleritis (inflammation of the white of the eye) or keratitis (inflammation of the cornea), have similar symptoms to conjunctivitis. If in doubt, consult an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
Causes Of Conjunctivitis
The causes of conjunctivitis are varied. When it is infectious, it is most often due to a virus (viral conjunctivitis) and sometimes to a bacterium (bacterial conjunctivitis). These are highly contagious forms. Allergic conjunctivitis occurs as a result of an allergy, mostly pollen. Finally, irritation can also be the cause of conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is especially common in babies and children. It can also affect pets such as dogs and cats.
Treatment: How To Treat Conjunctivitis?
In order to avoid any complications, it is important to consult a doctor as soon as the first symptoms appear. The treatment of conjunctivitis depends on its cause. Viral conjunctivitis is usually cured on its own after 10 to 15 days. Treatment consists of washing the eye with saline solution and using antiseptic eye drops several times a day. In the case of bacterial conjunctivitis, treatment is based on antibiotic eye drops. It must be frequent, between four and six times a day.
Allergic conjunctivitis is harder to treat. Your doctor will need to determine where the allergy comes from in order to treat it. Treatment with antihistamine eye drops may be prescribed.
Be warned, self-medication is extremely dangerous in cases of conjunctivitis. Do not use any old eye drops you have in your medicine cabinet. This could, in the most severe cases, damage the eye irreversibly and affect your vision.
Prevention: How To Avoid Conjunctivitis?
Hygiene measures help prevent contracting conjunctivitis. Of course, it is recommended to avoid contact with someone who has conjunctivitis. It is also advisable to always wash your hands thoroughly before putting on or taking off your contact lenses and after sneezing or blowing your nose. Avoid make-up which could irritate your eyes.
If you have contracted conjunctivitis, it is especially important to avoid touching your eyes. If you usually wear contact lenses you should stop wearing them until your conjunctivitis has cleared up.