Conjunctivitis

conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis

 

The suffix “itis” appears at the end of a lot of medical words and means inflammation.  Therefore conjunctivitis means inflammation of the conjunctiva, a layer of the eye.  There are three types of conjunctivitis.  Most people automatically think of a bacterial cause and want antibiotic treatment for this however this is the least common type.  Allergic conjunctivitis is the most common followed by viral then bacterial.

Allergic conjunctivitis

The eye has a watery discharge, is itchy and may be swollen or red.

Allergy eye drops and lubricating eye drops are the recommended treatment as well as trying to avoid what is causing the allergy eg pollen, dust, animal fur.

Viral conjunctivitis

The eye has a watery discharge, no itch, mild swelling and looks pinkish.

There is no effective treatment for most viral cases .  If there are sores on the eyelids or around the eyes it is essential to see a Doctor or optometrist as this could be caused by the herpes virus.

As it is very contagious it is important to wash hands well and wash bedding and towels and not share towels.  Avoid swimming as it can be spread through pool water.

Bacterial conjunctivitis

There is usually pus in the form of discharge, no itch, some swelling and the eye looks very red.

Cold or warm compresses and flushing with saline all feel nice but may not speed up healing.  Most cases resolve without treatment in 5-10 days.

Chloramphenicol antibiotic drops can be obtained by the pharmacist for patients two years and above.  These are used as one drop every 2 hours initially then every 4-6 hours for up to 5 days.  The eye can only hold one drop so any more is a waste.  Any time an eye drop is used it is a good idea to place a finger on the inner corner of the eye for a minute to stop the drop draining straight out and down the back of the nose.  Wash hands really well before and after using eye drops and be careful not to touch the bottle on to the eye or it can become contaminated.

If there are symptoms such as pain, loss of vision, cloudy eyes, reduced eye movement, changed pupil size, contact lens wear or possible foreign body a Doctor or optometrist should be seen.

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