Conjunctivitis: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
Often referred to as “red eye”, conjunctivitis is a common eye condition that causes redness and inflammation of the conjunctiva (the thin membrane covering the front of the eye).
In addition to redness, it can also cause itchiness, watering and a sticky layer over the eyelashes.
Conjunctivitis if most often caused by either a viral or bacterial infection (known as infective conjunctivitis) or by an allergic reaction (known as allergic conjunctivitis). Irritation can sometimes also be caused by contact with a substance or foreign object in the eye (know as irritant conjunctivitis) – a common side effect of wearing contact lenses.
If you think you may have conjunctivitis, you should avoid sharing cosmetics and towels etc, and make sure you wash your hands regularly to prevent spreading the condition.
Often, infective conjunctivitis will clear up by itself within a couple of weeks without the need for treatment, sometimes longer if it’s caused by a virus. If it’s caused by a bacterial infection though, your GP may prescribe antibacterial eye drops.
With allergic conjunctivitis, you should try to find out what is causing the reaction, and avoid contact with it. Antihistamines will also help relieve the soreness and itching.
If you do wear contact lenses and get conjunctivitis of any kind, it’s best to stop wearing them until it has completely cleared up.
Laser Eye Surgery patients sometimes ask us about conjunctivitis and Laser Eye Surgery. Conjunctivitis is usually a mild and temporary condition; if you have active conjunctivitis and have booked Laser Eye Surgery, you would need to wait until the conjunctivitis clears up before having your laser eye surgery.
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