Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, transparent membrane covering the surface of the inner eyelid and the front of the eye. The conjunctiva has many small blood vessels and serves to lubricate and protect the eye while it moves in its socket.
Bacterial conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, typically causes swelling of the eyelid and a yellowish discharge. It can, at times, cause itching and/or matting of the eyelids. Bacterial conjunctivitis is very contagious and can be easily transmitted by rubbing the eye and then infecting household items such as towels or handkerchiefs. When one member contracts bacterials conjuItivitus, it is common for entire families to become infected.
Symptoms of Conjunctivitis
- Red, watery eyes
- Inflamed eye lids
- Blurred vision and a sandy or scratchy feeling in the eyes
- Pus-like or watery discharge around the eyelids
- Matting of the eyelids
Certain precautions can help avoid the disease and stop its spread. Careful hand washing, the use of clean handkerchiefs and avoiding contagious individuals are all helpful. Children frequently get conjunctivitis because of their poor hygiene.
If you or someone in your household has contracted conjunctivitis, follow these steps to prevent the spread of the infection:
- Every time you touch your eyes or face, including when using medicine in your eye(s), wash your hands thoroughly.
- Wash any clothing touched by infected eyes including clothes, towels, and pillowcases.
- Do not share make-up. If the infection is caused by bacteria or a virus, throw away used make-up and buy new make-up
- Do not touch the infected eye because the infection will spread to the other eye.
Your eye doctor can easily detect conjunctivitis at an exam and can provide you with antibiotic drops and compresses to ease discomfort and clear up the infection, normally within just a few days. Occasionally the inflammation will not respond well to the initial treatment, necessitating a second visit to the office. When a severe infection is present, oral antibiotics are necessary. If left untreated, conjunctivitis can create serious complications, including infections in the cornea, eyelids and tear ducts.