Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or infection of the thin, transparent layer that lines the inner eyelids and covers the white part of the eye. There are three types of conjunctivitis: infectious, allergic and chemical.
What causes Conjunctivitis?
Infectious conjunctivitis, or “pink eye”, as it is commonly called, is caused by a virus or bacteria. Allergic conjunctivitis is a systemic effect of the body’s allergies to pollen, cosmetics, certain fabrics or animals. It is estimated that over 22 million Americans suffer from some form of allergic conjunctivitis. Irritants such as air pollution and chlorine in swimming pools can cause chemical conjunctivitis.
What are the symptoms?
Common symptoms include red watery eyes, mild discomfort, inflamed inner lids, blurred vision, a scratchy feeling in the eyes and occasional discharge.
How is Conjunctivitis diagnosed?
Your eye care professional will examine your eyes and ask questions to determine which type of conjunctivitis you have. In some cases, a sample may be collected and sent for analysis.
What are the treatment options?
Both bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are highly contagious. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching or rubbing your eyes. Warm compresses help soothe your eyes as well. If you find that warm compresses don't help, feel free to try cold compresses. Viral conjunctivitis typically clears up on its own after a few days. Antibiotic drops are prescribed to treat bacterial conjunctivitis. Over-the-counter antihistamine allergy pills or eye drops are recommended to control the irritation.