Conjunctivitis Treatment in London
What is conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis is also known as pink eye or red eye. The transparent membrane that lines the white of the eye and under surface of the eyelids is known as the conjunctiva. Inflammation or infection can lead to conjunctivitis causing the eye to appear pink or red.
What is the cause of conjunctivitis?
Both allergy and infection of the conjunctiva can cause the condition. When it is due to allergy is is known as allergic conjunctivitis. Infective conjunctivitis is due to infection which is usually due to a virus or bacteria.
How can you tell if conjunctivitis is viral or bacterial?
Viral infections tend to last longer than bacterial causes and are classically affect both eyes. There may be other symptoms associated with viral causes such as a sore throat and runny nose.
Bacterial infections are more likely to start with one eye and then develop into affecting both eyes. It is more likely to be associated with a mucopurulent discharge.
Allergic causes tend to affect both eyes. It is an acute conjunctivitis that is an allergic reaction. It can be associated with a watery discharge and itchy eyes. If it is associated with other allergies such as allergic asthma or hayfever you may have symptoms associated with these conditions as well.
How do you treat conjunctivitis?
Acute Bacterial conjunctivitis tends to be self limiting and may resolve with time. antibiotic drops or ointment to the eye are sometimes used to treat the condition and provide symptomatic relief. Bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus or streptococcus pneumoniae tend to cause these milder cases.
Viral conjunctivitis are mild cases that usually settle as the body fights off the viral infection. Artificial tears can be used for symptom relief. A less common virus that can cause a conjunctivitis is the Herpes simplex virus. This is more likely to affect one eye only and can affect the vision. If you have a history of herpetic eye infections or cold sores or suffer a drop in vision it would be worth seeing your eye doctor urgently to exclude a herpetic eye infection or any serious conditions that may affect your vision.
Allergic causes can be treated with topical antihistamine drops and cool compresses to the eyelids for symptomatic relief. More severe cases may require topical corticosteroids or other eye drops to treat the allergy. These drops are more likely to be used in vernal conjunctivitis which is a form of chronic conjunctivitis due to allergy. Rarer cases can lead to corneal ulceration if left untreated so it is important to see your eye doctor is there is a drop in your vision.
How do you treat conjunctivitis at home?
Most cases are self limiting and cause no long term damage to your eyes. The excessive tearing can be irritating and cause temporary blurring of vision. Persistent blurred vision should be assessed by your eye doctor. Infectious conjunctivitis can be due to viruses or bacteria, Direct contact with others, sharing towels or pillows and not regularly washing your hands can result in those around you developing it as well.
Contact lens wearers and those with a history of herpes simplex eye infections should get their eyes checked by their optician or eye doctor to ensure that no urgent treatment is required. They may require topical antibiotics or other prescription treatments depending on the underlying cause.
How long does conjunctivitis last?
It tends to last for 1 to 2 weeks whether it is bacterial or viral. Artificial tears can be used for symptomatic relief until the condition settles. Avoid using your contact lenses whilst you have the infection. Cold and not warm compresses are likely to reduce the inflammation and make the eyes more comfortable. Antibiotic eye drops such as Chloramphenicol can be bought over the counter without a prescription.
Vernal cases far less common and can last for 4-8 years usually subsiding around puberty. The can cause a corneal ulcer if left untreated the aim is disease control whilst the process is active.
Do I need to see a doctor with conjunctivitis?
Most cases will not require you to see your doctor particularly if your vision is unaffected and there is no history of vernal eye disease, herpes simplex eye infections and contact lens use. If you have any of these or are concerned you should see your eye doctor.
Does conjunctivitis go away on its own?
Common bacterial and viral cases will usually settle on their own and the clinical signs such as watery eyes will go away in a few weeks. Rarer and more serious cases will require an assessment by your doctor and treatment. It is important to attend the eye clinic if there is a drop in vision, a history of herpes simplex infection or contact lens use.
What is Ophthalmia Neonatorum?
This is a newborn conjunctivitis that occurs that occurs in the first 4 weeks of life. It can also be termed neonatal conjunctivitis. It tends to require an assessment by an eye doctor to ensure that there is not an infection that requires urgent treatment or that can damage the vision.
What causes Ophthalmia Neonatorum?
Chlamdyial infections are the most common cause in the United States. It is thought to be caught with the mother's birth canal during childbirth and is usually a sexually transmitted disease. Historically gonococcal infections were a common cause and the use of silver nitrate eye drops (discontinued in the UK in the 1950s) was used prophylactically. Haemophilus influenzae is the most common infective cause in older children,