What is Conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis is simply an infection or inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the eyelid. Conjunctivitis can be bacterial, but most often is associated with a virus.
Who Gets Conjunctivitis?
Anyone can get conjunctivitis although is commonly found in small children. Some people who have large, open eyes are more subspetable to conjunctivitis. Those who suffer from lack of tears are also at a greater risk of having conjunctivitis since tears help protect the membrane surrounding the eye.
What Causes Conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis is caused by a bacteria or other irritants. The most common cause of conjunctivitis is viral infections. “Pink Eye” is common form of conjunctivitis found mainly in small children and is very contagious. This form of conjunctivitis is caused by a viral infection. Newborns are also subspetable to conjunctivitis due to exposer of bacteria as they exit the birth canal. This form of conjunctivitis is known as ophthalmia neonatorum. This type of conjunctivitis can cause loss of sight and must be treated immediately. Other causes of conjunctivitis include allergies, chemical exposure, fungus, chlamydia and parasites. The use of long wear contact lenses has also been associated with conjunctivitis.
Symptoms of Conjunctivitis
The symptoms of conjunctivitis may depend on the type of conjunctivitis that you have. “Pink eye” is so named because the eye appears to look pink from inflammation and irritation. Here are other symptoms associated with conjunctivitis:
- Blurred vision
- Crust on the eyelid
- Eye may be matted shut after sleeping due to formation of crust
- Eye pain
- Itchy eyes
- Gritty feeling in the eyes
- Increased tears
- Redness of the whites of the eye
- Sensitivity to light
Over the Counter Treatments for Conjunctivitis
While there are no over the counter treatments that can cure conjunctivitis there are over the counter treatments that can help relieve the symptoms of conjunctivitis. The use of eye drops such as Clear Eyes can help relieve the redness and burning of conjunctivitis. Allergy medicine can also be beneficial to help relieve allergy associated conjunctivitis. These products should not be used in children under the age of 12 years old though.
Alternative Treatments for Conjunctivitis
There is no alternative treatment for conjunctivitis that will cure it but there are alternative treatments that will help relieve the symptoms or aid in the healing process.
The use of cold compresses on the eyes can relieve the itching associated with conjunctivitis that is caused by allergies. If you have conjunctivitis caused by bacteria or viral infections you should use a warm compress. This will help with the burning, itching and crust associated with these types of conjunctivitis. It is also helpful to apply a warm compress in the morning to help aid in opening your eyes.
“Pink Eye” is known to cause the eye to be matted shut in the morning and forcing the eye open can cause more pain. By applying the warm compress you can gently remove the crust and allow the eye to open more easily.
For viral and environmental conjunctivitis you can also use over the counter homeopathic eye drops called Similasan’s Active Response Formula. This formula works by allowing the body to natural relieve the redness, watery discharge and burning feeling associated with conjunctivitis.
When Is Medical Treatment Necessary
Adults should seek medical treatment if symptoms persist for 3 or more days. In children medical treatment should be sought as soon as conjunctivitis is suspected. It is extremely contagious and can turn into a bacteria infection easily.
Medical Treatments for Conjunctivitis
Viral conjunctivitis and allergy conjunctivitis will go away in 7 -10 days on it’s own but if conjunctivitis is bacteria an antibiotic will be needed. This antibiotic is general administered through eye drops or eye ointment. Children are generally given antibiotic drops to help the healing process and prevent the spread of conjunctivitis. Infants are given eye drops immediately after birth to prevent the development of conjunctivitis.