Conjunctivitis is the most common eye disease. The main symptoms of conjunctivitis are red eyes, a feeling of having a foreign body in the eye and increased lacrimation. Viral or bacterial infections as well as allergic reactions are most frequently responsible for conjunctivitis. The treatment depends on the cause.
The conjunctiva is a thin see-through cell layer which surrounds the white part of the eye. Viruses and bacteria or allergic reactions to pollen are the most frequent causes of conjunctivitis. However, UV rays or a foreign body in the eye can also cause it to occur.
Red eyes, increased lacrimation, itching, burning or the sensation of having a foreign object in the eye and sticky eyes are typical symptoms of conjunctivitis. If the conjunctivitis is viral or allergic, the eye is filled with watery or white secretion; if there is a bacterial infection, the secretion is purulent. Every inflammation or change in the eye should be checked by a doctor. Only a doctor can decide whether it is a harmless or a dangerous eye disease.
Conjunctivitis is diagnosed on the basis of its distinctive symptoms and confirmed with an eye examination. If the conjunctivitis is bacterial, the pathogens can be determined with an eye swab. If there is suspected allergic conjunctivitis, allergy tests are carried out to identify the triggering allergens.
The choice of treatment depends on what is causing the conjunctivitis. If the conjunctivitis is allergic, anti-allergic eye drops are administered. It is also important to avoid the triggering allergens. Bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with antibiotic eye drops. If the conjunctivitis is viral, the focus is on alleviating the symptoms. Infectious conjunctivitis is very often contagious. Hygienic measures such as handwashing, avoiding body contact and using separate hand towels help to prevent transfer to other people.