Conjunctivitis is a very common condition which is caused by a swelling of the conjunctiva (the thin layer of membrane that stretches over the whites of the eyes and the inner lining of the eyelids). It is a contagious condition, which can easily be spread. There are 3 types of conjunctivitis; these include:
- Allergic conjunctivitis: this occurs as a result of contact with an allergen; common examples of allergens include pollen and animal hair
- Irritant conjunctivitis: this occurs as a result of contact with a chemical or substance that causes a negative reaction in the eyes; examples of irritants include chlorine.
- Infective conjunctivitis: this is caused by a viral or bacterial infection or a sexually transmitted infection
Symptoms of conjunctivitis:
Common symptoms of conjunctivitis include:
- Itchy eyes
- Red eyes
- Swollen eyes
- Watery eyes
- Sensitivity to light
Most cases of conjunctivitis can be treated using antihistamines, which will ease the symptoms of swelling and itching. Antihistamines are particularly effective for allergic conjunctivitis; you should also avoid touching your eyes and wipe them gently with a warm cloth regularly. In severe cases, eye drops may be prescribed and in rare cases, a course of corticosteroids may be recommended.