Our eyes are a very sensitive part of our body. Unfortunately, this means that they can be easily affected by a range of different problems, some which relate to vision and others which relate to the health of the eyes themselves. One of the most common eye health problems is conjunctivitis.
Conjunctivitis is characterized by the inflammation or swelling of the conjunctiva – which is the thin, transparent layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. It is sometimes known as ‘pink eye’ and this is because it can make the eyes bloodshot and appear pinkish in color.
Since conjunctivitis is highly contagious, you will need to take proactive steps to prevent other people living with you from developing the condition. This means that you should wash your hands regularly with hot, soapy water, avoid sharing towels and pillows and treating the problem as soon as possible. Although conjunctivitis is contagious, you shouldn’t need to miss school or work while you have it unless you are employed in a job where there is a very high risk associated with the condition.
There are several different types of conjunctivitis, each based on their cause. Viral conjunctivitis is caused by a virus that isn’t dissimilar to the common cold. Although it is transmitted very easily, it usually resolves itself within a few days without the need for medical intervention. Bacterial conjunctivitis meanwhile is caused by a type of bacteria and can cause serious damage to the eye if left untreated. Allergic conjunctivitis occurs when the patient has a reaction to irritants such as dust, pollen or animal fur, and can be seasonal or affect them all year round. Finally, some sexually-transmitted infections can cause conjunctivitis.
Conjunctivitis will usually affect both eyes at the same time. Some of the symptoms that you can expect to experience include:
Bloodshot, red or pink eyes.
Eyes that feel itchy or gritty.
Itchy, watering eyes.
A sticky pus that sticks to the eyelashes. This is contagious so you must wash your hands after touching your eyes.
Some of the symptoms listed above can also be indicative of other eye diseases, so if you are experiencing problems, it is important that you speak to your eye doctor promptly to obtain the correct diagnosis.
Exactly what treatment you will need for conjunctivitis will depend on the type that you have and how severely you are affected.
Viral conjunctivitis rarely requires treatment. Instead, you will just need to manage the symptoms until it resolves itself. This can mean using cool, clean water to clear away any pus from the eyes, which will help improve your vision and clear away any sticky residue. You will also have to take extra care not to spread viral conjunctivitis to people around you.
Bacterial conjunctivitis usually needs antibiotic treatment. These may be supplied as drops or ointments that you place into your eyes are prescribed.
Allergic conjunctivitis can normally only be relieved using allergy medications, such as antihistamines. Avoiding the trigger as much as possible is also very helpful.
Although conjunctivitis is usually mild, if not treated, it can have serious consequences for your vision. Therefore, if you suspect that you may have conjunctivitis, don’t delay in seeking an appointment with our expert eye care specialists today by calling our offices in Richmond and Midlothian, VA.