What is conjunctivitis?
- Inflammation of the mucous membrane covering the white of the eyes (i.e. the conjunctiva)
- There are three several different types of conjunctivitis - the three most common are bacterial, allergic and viral conjunctivitis
- Cause - infection by bacteria e.g. staphylococcus
- Symptoms - Eyes will feel irritated and "gritty". Characteristic sticky discharge that is particularly prominent in the morning. Patients will often complain of having eyes that are "stuck together" in the morning.
- Treatment - chloramphenicol eye drops or ointment
- Cause - infection by virus e.g. adenovirus
- Symptoms - reddish eyes with watery discharge. Eyes are often irritated and may feel gritty. Often accompanied by general cold symptoms (e.g. nasal congestion, cough)
- Treatment - involves management of symptoms e.g. lubricant eye drops or ointment to minimise irritation. Corticosteroid eye preparations may be prescribed in more severe or long-lived infection.
- Cause - antigens e.g. pollen, dust
- Symptoms - itchy, watery eyes that may become red. Symptoms are worse after exposure to triggers e.g. people with hay fever will often experience allergic conjunctivitis when pollen count is high.
- Treatment - Sodium cromoglicate (mast cell stabiliser). Repeated use is necessary to perceive benefit. Lubricant eye drops or ointments may provide some symptomatic relief. Corticosteroids can also be prescribed in more severe or long-lived cases