The Eyes Have It: Conjunctivitis
by Rick Alan
The change from summer to fall and winter brings different problems to each of us. For some, the seasonal changes bring the all-too-familiar allergies, colds, and flu. For others it brings conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is a thin, transparent layer that covers the inner eyelid and the white part of the eye.
The symptoms of conjunctivitis can run from annoying to painful, and include:
Types of Conjunctivitis
There are five types of conjunctivitis:
The best way to treat allergic and chemical conjunctivitis is to remove the allergen or pollutant from your daily environment. You should also:
Preventing Conjunctivitis from Spreading
Both bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are contagious. If you get either of these types of conjunctivitis, measures should be taken to avoid spreading the condition to your other eye or to other people. These measures include:
When to Seek Treatment
Conjunctivitis will often go away by itself, but if not, it can be cured relatively easily. However, certain types of conjunctivitis, if left untreated, can cause permanent damage to your cornea and impair your vision permanently. You should immediately seek treatment if:
American Academy of Ophthalmology
National Eye Institute
Canadian Family Physician
Allergic conjunctivitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated August 19, 2013. Accessed October 14, 2013.
Infectious conjunctivitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated August 21, 2013. Accessed October 14, 2013.
Ophthalmia neonatorum. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated May 8, 2013. Accessed October 14, 2013.
Raizman MB, Rothman JS, Maroun F, Rand WM. Effect of eye rubbing on signs and symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis in cat-sensitive individuals. Ophthalmology. 2000 Dec;107(12):2158-2161.
Last reviewed October 2013 by Michael Woods, MD