Whenever the small layer of tissue lining the inner eyelid and the exterior surface of the eye starts to swell, it’s known as conjunctivitis, commonly referred to as “pink eye.” The eye condition is more common in children, but it has been known to happen in adults as well.
Depending on the overall cause, length of time and symptoms, conjunctivitis can be either chronic or acute. The chronic condition is the longer lasting of the two, with acute conjunctivitis lasting only a few days. The condition isn’t known to lead to long-lasting problems with vision, but there are instances of it resulting in damage, if not treated the right way or if the symptoms are severe enough.
Symptoms of Conjunctivitis
A majority of symptoms are dependent on the specific type of conjunctivitis, but some of the more common include:
- Eyelids becoming stuck together, due to the formation of crust on the eyes
- Watery discharge or pus
- Light sensitivity
- Irritation and redness
- Mild to severe pain
Causes of Conjunctivitis
One of the main causes of this particular eye condition is a viral infection, which can happen after an upper respiratory infection, cold or flu. This type of viral infection is one of the most contagious, spreading quickly through the local environment.
A second cause is allergies, which include seasonal allergies as well as those resulting from mold spores, dander, dust and other common household allergens. Additional causes include:
- Preservatives used in contact lens solutions and other environmental chemicals or toxins
- Bacterial infection
- Infections caused by the sexually transmitted diseases gonorrhea and chlamydia, which have been known to occur in babies as well as adults
Treatment for Conjunctivitis
The type of conjunctivitis the individual has determines the specific treatment. Cold compresses, eye drops and ointment are some of the most common. A majority of cases will resolve themselves in a matter of weeks, as long as they are properly treated.
Cases that are caused by environmental toxins and allergies have to be treated by removing the cause, such as avoiding environmental pollutants or using a different type of contact lens solution. Additional treatment options include medications and antihistamines.