Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the eye surface called the conjunctiva. It is one of the most common ophthalmic conditions. Conjunctivitis can be related to eye infections (both bacterial and viral) or allergies; the most common of which is a viral infection, especially frequent during the winter months, following a flu-like illness. Allergenic causes are more prevalent in spring and summer.
A summary of Red Eyes
Conjunctivitis can be diagnosed through a comprehensive ophthalmological examination. Testing is done with particular attention paid to the inner aspect of the eyelids and the eye surface to exclude Keratitis. A bacteriological swab of the conjunctiva may be taken.
- Clean the discharge and crusts with saline solution and sterile gauze
- Apply cold compresses over the eyes to alleviate symptoms
- Use artificial tears to improve the eye surface environment
Infectious conjunctivitis is usually treated with antibiotic eye drops, such as chloramphenicol.
Conjunctivitis as a result of an allergy is treated with anti-allergic drops, anti-inflammatory drops, and sometimes steroid drops in the most severe cases.
What does the procedure involve?
Is the procedure painful?
What do I need to do afterwards?
How long will it take to heal?
Will I need time off work?
Will I need any follow up appointments?
Can anything go wrong?
Is conjunctivitis contagious?
Yes, it can be spread by touch or by sharing flannels, towels, make-up etc.
Can conjunctivitis cause loss of vision?
Rarely the cornea can get a secondary ulcer (Keratitis) which can cause permanent scarring which can blur vision. Very rarely the Keratitis can cause total corneal opacity or perforate the cornea and cause severe loss of vision
Do I take antimicrobial/ antibiotic drops if I have a viral conjunctivitis?
Opthalmologists are divided about this. Often antibiotic drops are prescribed to either prevent or treat a secondary bacterial infection, but will have little effect on the duration, cause or severity of a viral conjunctivitis.