Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the protective membrane that lines your eyelids and the whites of your eye.
Viral conjunctivitis is often caused by the same virus that causes the common cold. It usually begins in one eye, then affects the other eye within 24 to 48 hours. It tends to cause a thin watery or white mucous discharge and may be accompanied by symptoms of a cold.
The common symptoms of conjunctivitis are:
- increased amount of tears
- gritty eyes – feels like there’s sand in your eyes
- itchy eyes
- swelling of your eyelids and crusting on your eyelids overnight.
This tends to cause a thin watery or white mucous discharge that usually begins in one eye, then affects the other eye within 24 to 48 hours. It may be accompanied by symptoms of a viral infection such as a common cold, cough or sore throat.
How is conjunctivitis treated?
The treatment for conjunctivitis differs depending on what is causing it.
There is no effective treatment for common viral conjunctivitis. In most cases, it gets better on its own over a few days.
- Artificial tears eye drops can provide some relief from any discomfort.
- Clean away secretions from eyelids and lashes with cotton wool soaked in water.
- Viral conjunctivitis is contagious, so take care to wash your hands, use separate towels and avoid touching your face.
How can I reduce the spread of infectious conjunctivitis?
Good hygiene can help prevent the spread of conjunctivitis:
- Try not to rub or touch your eye – you can spread infection to your other eye or to someone else.
- If you do touch your eye, wash your hands well afterwards.
- Use your own facecloth, towels, pillowcases and bed linen and change these regularly.
It is best to keep young children with infectious conjunctivitis home from daycare/school if the eye is sticky or weeping because the discharge is infectious.