Severe conjunctivitis can harm your vision if left untreated.
Conjunctivitis occurs when the thin transparent layer that lines the inner eyelids and the white parts of the eye, becomes inflamed.
There are three types of conjunctivitis: infectious, allergic and toxic conjunctivitis.
Infectious conjunctivitis may occur in only one eye and is very contagious.
It can be caused by bacteria and symptoms usually include a sticky, watery discharge and the eyelids can stick together on waking.
Infectious conjunctivitis may be treated with antibiotic eye drops and ointment.
This condition can also be caused by a virus where symptoms include a watery, clear discharge and a feeling that there is foreign matter in the eye.
In this case drops may be prescribed by an optometrist and your immune system has to fight off the virus.
To control the spread of infectious conjunctivitis it is important to keep your hands away from your eyes; wash your hands before applying eye medication and don’t share towels, face washers, cosmetics, pillows or eye drops with others.”
Allergic conjunctivitis usually affects both eyes and is not contagious.
This type of conjunctivitis occurs when airborne agents such as pollen, cosmetics, animals or fabric, cause irritation.
The body’s reaction can cause swelling of the conjunctiva, which is a thin glandular membrane. Some people also experience nasal allergy symptoms such as sneezing, sniffling and a stuffy nose.
To manage allergic conjunctivitis, you should focus on prevention or avoidance of the allergens that trigger your symptom.
Toxic conjunctivitis may occur in one eye only and is not contagious. This condition occurs when the eye is exposed to an irritant such as air pollution, noxious fumes and excessive chlorine in swimming pools. In the workplace or home, acids and cleaning chemicals can be the cause.
The eye usually becomes irritated immediately after exposure.
In the case of exposure to a chemical, the eye should be flushed, preferably with fresh water, for several minutes.
If you have allergic or toxic conjunctivitis, it is important to consult your optometrist. If the cause of the problem is identified, you can then try to avoid it.
Tips to reduce your exposure to allergens that cause allergic conjunctivitis:
- Stay indoors when the wind is blowing pollen
- Wear spectacles or sunglasses outdoors
- Avoid rubbing eyes or wearing contact lenses
- Reduce dust mite exposure in your home
- Wash hands straight after patting animals