The conjunctiva is a thin mucous membrane covering and protecting the visible, white part of the eye that can become inflamed from a foreign object or other stimuli. Many things can trigger conjunctivitis, the most common ones being a virus, bacteria, or an allergic reaction to pollen. But also foreign bodies in the eye, strong UV radiation, or chlorine in the water of pools can cause it.
The most common signs are itching or a burning sensation as well as reddening of the eyes. Furthermore, the typical symptoms usually include increased tearing, irritation, sensitivity to light, as well as stickiness. If a virus or allergy is the cause, you may also notice white or watery secretions in the affected eye. A bacterial condition, on the other hand, is likely to trigger purulent secretions.
Conjunctivitis usually lasts around three weeks. Nevertheless, it’s best to go to the doctor and have your eyes checked, because only a medical expert can tell whether the condition is harmless or dangerous. Treatment of conjunctivitis depends on the cause:
- Viral conjunctivitis: There are no effective drugs for a viral inflammation. Since the infection usually runs its course without complications, the treatment aims merely to alleviate the symptoms.
- Allergic conjunctivitis: The most important thing here is to stay away from any triggering allergens, although using anti-allergic eye drops are an option as well.
- Bacterial conjunctivitis: If bacteria are the cause, treatment usually involves eye drops or eye ointments with an antibiotic substance.
You also need to take strict hygienic measures to prevent the transmission of infectious conjunctivitis: Wash your hands thoroughly, use separate towels, and avoid physical contact.
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