Commonly, conjunctivitis (also known as red or pink eye) can affect one or both eyes. Symptoms are:
- Red or bloodshot eyes
- A feeling of grit in the eyes
- Sticky eyes or pus in the eyes that sticks to eyelashes
- Continuous watering of the eyes
- Irritants such as dust, smoke, chemical splash
- A foreign object in the eye
- A blocked tear duct (in newborns)
Viral conjunctivitis can occur alongside respiratory infections such as colds and flu. Bacterial conjunctivitis produces more sticky discharge and conjunctivitis caused by allergies produces itchy eyes. Contact lenses that aren’t cleaned properly can cause bacterial conjunctivitis. Both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are extremely contagious.
Self help involves:
- Wiping the eyes with cotton wool balls soaked in water, that has been boiled and cooled, every four hours.
There is no treatment for viral conjunctivitis.
Bacterial conjunctivitis often gets better on its own but can be treated with antibiotic drops or ointments that are available from the pharmacy.
Allergic conjunctivitis can be helped by using:
- Lubricating eye drops
- Antihistamine eye drops or tablets
- Avoiding the allergen that is causing the allergic reaction if possible.