Do you ever wake up in the morning with a sticky discharge on your eyelashes? Red, itchy eyes? Its possible that you have conjunctivitis, or “pink-eye”, as it is more commonly known. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin clear tissue that lies over the white part of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid.
What Causes Conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis has a number of different causes, including bacteria, viruses, allergies and irritants such as dirt, shampoos and chlorine in swimming pools.
Although it is not a serious health risk, conjunctivitis caused by some bacteria and viruses is contagious and spreads easily from person to person.
How Can you Prevent Spreading Conjunctivitis?
Avoid touching or rubbing the eyes.
Wash your hands often with soap and warm water.
Wash any discharge from your eyes several times a day with warm water.
Wash your pillowcases and towels in hot water and detergent.
Wear glasses instead of contact lenses.
Clean contact lenses and cases thoroughly, or throw away disposable lenses.
Avoid sharing towels, glasses and eye make-up.
Wash your hands after applying eye drops or ointment.
Do not use eye drops that were used for an infected eye in a non-infected eye.
If your child has bacterial or viral conjunctivitis, keep him home from school until the symptoms have been resolved.
What Are the Symptoms of Conjunctivitis?
The symptoms may include redness, thick yellow discharge that crusts the eyelashes, green or white discharge, itchy or burning eyes, blurred vision and increased sensitivity to light.
Although it is not a serious health problem, it is important to treat conjunctivitis as soon as possible, so consult your doctor or optometrist if you experience any of these symptoms.
How Is Conjunctivitis Treated?
The treatment for conjunctivitis depends on the cause.
Conjunctivitis caused by bacteria is usually treated with antibiotics, in the form of eye drops, ointment or pills.
Treatment may need to be continued for a few days after the symptoms have gone; be sure to follow the instructions given for treatment.