Conjunctivitis is a condition that causes the conjunctiva to become inflamed. The conjunctiva is a thin tissue that lines the inside of the eyelids and the white part of the eye. Conjunctivitis is commonly called ‘pink eye’ and tends to occur more frequently in children than in adults.
Conjunctivitis can be either acute or chronic depending on the cause, symptoms and the duration of the infection. Acute conjunctivitis typically resolves within a few days, while chronic conjunctivitis lingers for prolonged periods of time and tends to recur. Conjunctivitis rarely causes permanent vision problems; however, it is possible if the infection is severe and proper treatment is not given.
Common causes of conjunctivitis are bacteria, viruses, and allergens. Other causes can include chemical injury, certain diseases, fungi, and contact lens wear. Foreign bodies in the eye can also cause the cornea to become inflamed, as can vapours, smoke, and dust. Your optometrist will be able to determine the type of conjunctivitis, and thus the most appropriate treatment to accelerate your recovery.
Symptoms of conjunctivitis can vary depending on the type of conjunctivitis. These symptoms have the potential to affect one or both eyes.
People with conjunctivitis might have some or all of the following eye symptoms:
The choice of treatment for conjunctivitis depends on the cause. Eye drops and ointments are often prescribed to manage and relieve symptoms. Most types of conjunctivitis resolve after one to two weeks of treatment.