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Understanding Conjunctivitis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, is a condition that affects the thin, transparent membrane covering the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids. While often a mild and easily treatable condition, conjunctivitis can be uncomfortable and highly contagious. Here we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for conjunctivitis.


Conjunctivitis can be caused by various factors, including viral and bacterial infections, allergens, and irritants. Viral conjunctivitis is often associated with the common cold or flu viruses, while bacterial conjunctivitis can result from different bacteria strains. Allergic conjunctivitis occurs when the eyes react to allergens such as pollen, dust, or pet dander. Irritants like smoke and chlorine in swimming pools can also trigger conjunctivitis.


The hallmark sign of conjunctivitis is the reddening of the eyes, earning it the colloquial name "pink eye." Other common symptoms include itching, a gritty feeling in the eyes, excessive tearing, and a discharge that may cause crusting. The severity of symptoms can vary depending on the cause of conjunctivitis.
Types of Conjunctivitis:
Viral Conjunctivitis: Typically caused by viruses like adenovirus, viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious and can spread easily through direct or indirect contact with an infected person's eye secretions.
Bacterial Conjunctivitis: Caused by bacteria such as Staphylococcus or Streptococcus, bacterial conjunctivitis can result in a yellow or greenish discharge. It is also contagious and spreads through contact.
Allergic Conjunctivitis: Triggered by allergens, this type of conjunctivitis is not contagious. It often accompanies other allergic reactions like sneezing and a runny nose.


The approach to treating conjunctivitis depends on its cause:
Viral Conjunctivitis: Typically, this type resolves on its own within a week or two. Symptomatic relief may include the use of artificial tears and cold compresses.
Bacterial Conjunctivitis: Antibiotic eye drops or ointments are commonly prescribed to treat bacterial conjunctivitis. It's essential to complete the full course of medication to prevent recurrence.
Allergic Conjunctivitis: Antihistamines, mast cell stabilizers, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops can help alleviate symptoms. Avoiding allergens is also crucial.


Practicing good hygiene can help prevent the spread of conjunctivitis. Wash hands frequently, avoid touching the eyes, and refrain from sharing personal items like towels or eye makeup. For those prone to allergic conjunctivitis, managing allergies can significantly reduce the risk.
While conjunctivitis can be uncomfortable, prompt identification of the cause and appropriate treatment measures can lead to a speedy recovery. If you suspect you have conjunctivitis or experience persistent eye discomfort, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plan.
For any further information regarding Conjunctivitis, please contact your local Eyecare Professional, or getting touch with Lais Opticians directly on 020 8478 1631
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