Your eyes are delicate and complicated organs, and even a minor infection can have a big impact on your sight and appearance. Any face-to-face communication involves eye contact, so a condition like conjunctivitis can be socially embarrassing, as well as physically uncomfortable. In this article, we'll explain the main causes of conjunctivitis, outline some simple treatments, and explain why an appointment with your optician should be your first course of action.
Conjunctivitis occurs when one part of the eye, called the conjunctiva, gets infected or swells up. This thin layer of clear tissue is designed to protect the eyes from harm, but it can easily be attacked by viruses or bacteria, resulting in various different symptoms. Fortunately, conjunctivitis is easily dealt with, and your optician is ideally placed to diagnose it and recommend a programme of treatment. There's no need to visit a doctor- our qualified optometrist can recommend most required medication.
Viral conjunctivitis is very common and often attacks one eye only. Classic symptoms of viral conjunctivitis are excessive itchiness and watering, and there are relatively few available treatments for this condition. Cool compresses and eye baths can help to soothe any itching, and it's important to avoid make-up for a week, giving your eyes the best chance to recover.
Unlike the viral strain, bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with eye drops or creams. This type of conjunctivitis often produces small amounts of pus, which (as well as looking rather unpleasant) can make it difficult to open your eyes first thing in the morning. If the inner eyelids become infected as well, your eyes can feel gritty and sticky, as though something's trapped inside them. Fortunately, like viral conjunctivitis, these symptoms should go away within a few days.
The cause of allergic conjunctivitis can be hard to pinpoint, but new cosmetics or high pollen levels are classic triggers. Once a likely source has been identified, you should do your best to avoid it. This type of conjunctivitis often feels like a bad dose of hayfever, with itchiness and watery eyes. Running water can provide short-term relief, and your optometrist may decide to prescribe special antihistamine drops as well as lubricants to relieve the symptoms.
A few treatments are recommended for all forms of conjunctivitis. Gentle eye cleaning and cold compresses will ease discomfort, and regular hand-washing can prevent other people becoming infected. Conjunctivitis sufferers should use their own towels and tissues at all times, and contact lenses must be avoided (along with eye make-up) until the condition has cleared.
If you do not see an improvement then it may be a good idea to book an appointment by calling us on 01279 757767 and one of our optometrists will be able to help you further.