What is conjunctivitis and how do you treat it?

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Conjunctivitis is a highly contagious eye problem and a great deal of people (particularly children) are likely to find themselves suffering from it at some point in their life. The conjunctiva is the transparent membrane that covers the sclera, or white, of your eye and the inside of your eyelids. When it gets infected or inflamed, this is known as conjunctivitis. It’s easily caught and thankfully easily treated too, so here is a useful article on conjunctivitis symptoms so that you can see whether your conjunctivitis is bacterial or viral and how you can treat it.

Viral conjunctivitis

Often called pink eye, or an eye cold, viral conjunctivitis tends to present with watery itchy eyes, and you may become sensitive to light. It is incredibly contagious and can be spread by coughing and sneezing, which is why it is very common in schools. You may get viral conjunctivitis in one eye, or both, but the good news is that there is no specific treatment needed and within a week or two it will go off on its own. You may find that the second or third day after appearing, the symptoms start to get worse but then it will begin to get better.

Bacterial conjunctivitis

You can usually tell if your conjunctivitis is bacterial, as it comes with sticky green-yellow discharge which can stick your eyes together and be really uncomfortable. Bacterial conjunctivitis is really contagious, but in this case, it is passed through direct contact such as using the same washcloth or just passed through bacteria on hands. It is so important to inform the people around you if you or your child have bacterial conjunctivitis as they may need to take extra precautions. It can also cause some serious complications and is a lot more dangerous than the viral counterpart, so it is really important you see your eye doctor. You will likely be given antibacterial eye drops to treat the issue and things will feel better after a few days.

If you start to get any sudden, sharp eye pains, changes in vision that aren’t caused by the discharge, extreme redness, or extreme sensitivity to light, it’s important you get seen as soon as possible. It may be that you have developed a different more serious type of eye infection, or that the infection in your conjunctiva has spread to your cornea.

Washing your hands regularly and thoroughly, and making sure each member of the family has their own washcloth and hand towel can help stop conjunctivitis from spreading. Wearing goggles in a public pool can also reduce the risk of getting bacteria in your eye, as does the use of daily disposable contact lenses instead of lenses that need to sit in a solution – if you do use a contact solution make sure you are following the directions carefully. While you are experiencing symptoms of conjunctivitis you should not wear contact lenses or eye makeup as this can make things worse.

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