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Conjunctivitis Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

The conjunctivitis is a disorder of the eye very common. It is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, a transparent layer of cells covering the entire surface of the eye, including the inside of the eyelid. Inflammation gives a red-eye appearance by diffuse irritation of the conjunctiva.

Causes of conjunctivitis 

Conjunctivitis may be of infectious origin, linked to a microorganism. It can be a virus or a bacterium. Most often, it is caused by a virus , a little more rarely by a bacterial infection. An eye is affected in general, and quite often the other eye is touched in a second time. Viral conjunctivitis, often due to an adenovirus, causes clear aqueous secretions. The conjunctivitis bacterial, rather result in purulent secretions, greenish yellow, thicker and that stick the eyelids in the morning. Both forms are highly contagious. Some conjunctivitis is linked to sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia or gonococci (in newborn children).

The conjunctivitis can also result from an allergic reaction , such as pollen. Both eyes are affected. The eyes sting and the conjunctive membrane are irritated.

Finally, conjunctivitis can be caused by irritation , contact between the eye and chemicals , or a foreign body . Secretions are sometimes present, but usually disappear after 24 hours.

When to consult?

Although it is disturbing, conjunctivitis does not usually interfere with vision and does not require emergency treatment. However, since bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are contagious , it is best to be diagnosed and treated.

Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are very contagious , it is better to heal quickly so as not to contaminate the environment, or class for children!

Symptoms of conjunctivitis 

  • Of pain one eye or both eyes, often feeling like a grain of sand in the eye.
  • The tingling in one eye or both eyes.
  • A sensation of burning , from scratch or abrasion .
  • Of secretions which sometimes form a crust during the night.
  • Redness of the affected eye (or both eyes).
  • A reflex tearing.

 Risk factors

  • Contact with a person with infectious conjunctivitis.
  • Exposure to allergens or chemicals.
  • Inadequate maintenance and prolonged use  of contact lenses .
  • Poor hygiene (no washing hands that transmit microbes).


Basic preventive measures
Basic hygiene measures and proper cleaning of contact lenses can help prevent conjunctivitis.

  • Wash your hands before putting on or taking off lenses
  • Wash hands after blowing and sneezing. (In the opposite case, the microbes on the fingers can reach the eye if it is rubbed)
  • Pay attention to contact with a child with conjunctivitis.
  • Avoid eye shadow, potentially irritating mascara.

Once conjunctivitis is declared, further emphasize the following habits:

  • Avoid touching your eyes with your hands.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap or disinfectant.
  • Wash your towels, washcloths and pillowcases regularly. Do not share them with others.
  • Avoid cosmetics that apply around the eyes, especially mascara. Throw away potentially contaminated mascaras.
  • Follow the instructions of your optometrist or ophthalmologist regarding the maintenance of contact lenses. If possible, dispose of potentially contaminated solutions, cases and contact lenses.

Infectious conjunctivitis

An antibiotic eye drops (drops of antibiotics to put in the affected eye) allows to eliminate the infection in a few days when it is an infectious conjunctivitis. It is important to follow the treatment until the end, to avoid the reappearance of the infection, and then to throw the drops which are kept only a few days in the refrigerator.

Viral conjunctivitis

Viral conjunctivitis is not treated with antibiotic drops. The treatment consists of washing the eye with saline, and drops of antiseptic eye drops. Antibiotics in drops are sometimes indicated when the virus has weakened the conjunctiva which is infected with a bacterium.

The symptoms disappear most often in 10 to 15 days. Sometimes it can be complicated by keratitis, deeper involvement of the cornea with superficial ulcerations, causing discomfort to vision. In case of visual embarrassment, it is necessary to consult.

Allergic reaction

The treatment consists firstly in regular washings with physiological saline , which makes it possible to eliminate as much as possible of allergic substance in contact with the conjunctiva (for example the pollen grains). In treatment of a crisis, an anti-allergic medicine, an antihistamine drops into the eyes, is prescribed. When it comes to a seasonal or long-lasting allergy, the doctor also prescribes an eye drops treatment to be taken regularly (mast cell anti-degranulation treatment) the time of contact with the allergenic substance.
Allergy to a cosmetic product is primarily treated by the eviction of allergenic cosmetics.

Ordinary irritation

Rinsing with saline may be sufficient. Artificial tears bought in pharmacies can help relieve irritation.

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