dreamstime_m_31267484What is conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the thin layer of tissue which covers the eye (the conjunctiva).  Conjunctivitis is most commonly caused by either a viral or bacterial infection, through an allergic reaction, or through an irritant such as chlorine, shampoo or an eyelash coming into contact with the eye.

Conjunctivitis is highly contagious. You are therefore strongly recommended to avoid contact with others, wash your hands every time you touch your face and use your own towel until the condition has cleared.

What are the symptoms?

Conjunctivitis is sometimes known more commonly as “red eye” or “pink eye,” which comes from its most prominent symptom which is a redness of the white of your eye. Other symptoms include an itchy or gritty feeling in your eye, watering of the eye and sometimes a sticky mucus-like coating on the eyelids.

How is conjunctivitis treated?

Conjunctivitis doesn’t usually require treatment as it will often clear up on its own after a couple of weeks. If it has been caused by an allergy then antihistamines will help. If the cause is bacterial, then a course of antibiotics may be recommended.

Contact lens wearers are recommended to switch to glasses until their conjunctivitis has cleared, as these can prolong and worsen the condition. Conjunctivitis rarely leads to further complications, but if yours lasts for more than a few weeks, is accompanied by pain or a sensitivity to light, you should seek advice from your GP.