How to Spot Conjunctivitis & How to Deal with it
- What is conjunctivitis?
- What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis / how do you diagnose conjunctivitis?
- How do you treat the different forms of conjunctivitis?
- Is there anything I can do to reduce the chances of getting conjunctivitis?
The conjunctiva is a clear, thin membrane which stretches between your eyelid and your eye. The conjunctiva actually prevents contact lenses from being lost behind a wearers eyeball. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of this membrane (the conjunctiva). There are three major types of conjunctivitis: viral, bacterial and allergic. We talk more about how to treat these different types of conjunctivitis below.
You may have conjunctivitis if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Sensitivity to light
- Swelling of your eyelids
If you experience any of the above symptoms of conjunctivitis you should stop wearing your contact lenses immediately. Wearing contact lenses whilst suffering from conjunctivitis can cause damage the cornea of your eye so please make sure you don’t take any unnecessary risks by continuing to wear your contact lenses. If you consider any of your symptoms severe you should book an appointment to see your GP / Optician. When you visit your GP / Optician, he / she will carefully examine your eyes and check for swelling or tenderness around your jaw and ears. Your GP / Optician may also take a sample of liquid from your eyes in order to test what types of infection is present.
Viral conjunctivitis eventually goes away on its own, even if it isn’t treated. Your GP / Optician may however prescribe eye drops to help to manage your symptoms. Antihistamine pills may also help to relieve itchiness. Viral conjunctivitis usually gets worse for around a week after the first symptoms. It usually gets better after between ten days and a month. Bacterial conjunctivitis is treated with antibiotic eye drops. These eye-drops help to wash your eyes gently. Bacterial conjunctivitis normally improves in less than two days after antibiotic eye-drops are first used. If after three days of applying antibiotic drops to your eyes the conjunctivitis has not cleared up then you should book an appointment with your GP / Optician. Allergic conjunctivitis should be treated by first ensuring you are no longer exposed to the allergen. Once this is achieved, the symptoms should reduce naturally. Antihistamine tablets or certain eye drops may sometimes be prescribed to speed up the process.
There are a few precautionary steps that contact lens wearers can take to reduce the chances of getting conjunctivitis. Please always:
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
- Avoid excessively rubbing your eyes
- Avoid sharing eye makeup or cosmetics
- Do not share towels or washcloths with others
By following the advice above you should reduce the risk of catching conjunctivitis. However, if you do think you are suffering from conjunctivitis and it is not clearing up then it is essential that you stop wearing your contact lenses and visit your GP / Optician.