What is Conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis is a common eye infection, commonly called pinkeye, especially prevalent among children under five. It is an inflammation (swelling and redness), of the conjunctiva which is the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids.
Conjunctivitis can be alarming because it may make the eyes extremely red, and can spread quickly. It’s fairly common and usually causes no long-term eye or vision damage.
Still, if your child has symptoms of pinkeye, it’s important to see your therapeutically qualified optometrist or your doctor. Some kinds of pinkeye go away on their own, but others need treatment.
Causes of conjunctivitis
- Conjunctivitis can be caused by an infection, (viral or bacterial), which is highly contagious, or by an allergic reaction which is not contagious.
- Allergic conjunctivitis is what occurs most often in children who have other allergic conditions, such as hay fever. Triggers of allergic conjunctivitis include grass, ragweed pollen, animal dander, and dust mites.
- You could develop conjunctivitis if you come into contact with:
- Discharge from the eyes, nose or throat of an infected person through touch, coughing or sneezing.
- Contaminated fingers or objects.
- In summertime, conjunctivitis can be spread when children swim in contaminated water or share contaminated towels.
- A person with conjunctivitis will remain infectious as long as there is a discharge from the eye/s.
If you know that your child is prone to allergic conjunctivitis, keep windows and doors closed on days when the pollen is heavy, and ensure that you dust and vacuum frequently to limit allergy triggers in the home. Irritant conjunctivitis can only be prevented by avoiding the irritating causes.
Pinkeye caused by a virus usually goes away without any treatment. If your therapeutically qualified optometrist or your doctor thinks that the pinkeye is due to a bacterial infection, antibiotic eye drops or ointment will be prescribed.
It can sometimes be a challenge to get kids to tolerate eye drops several times a day. If you’re having trouble, put the drops on the inner corner of your child’s closed eye — when the child opens the eye, the medicine will flow into it. If you continue to have trouble with drops, ask the doctor about antibiotic ointment or install the drops while your child is asleep. It can be applied in a thin layer where the eyelids meet, and will melt and enter the eye.
If your child has allergic conjunctivitis, your therapeutically qualified optometrist or your doctor may prescribe anti-allergy medicine, which comes in the form of pills, liquid, or eye drops.
Wash your hands often! Clean the edges of the infected eye carefully with warm water and gauze or cotton balls; use each swab once only on each eye. This will help remove the crusts of dried discharge that may cause the eyelids to stick together first thing in the morning.
When to call your therapeutically qualified Optometrist or your Doctor
If the pinkeye does not improve after 2 to 3 days of treatment, or after a week when left untreated, it is advisable to call.
If you are unsure about what is conjunctivitis, please contact us.