Conjunctivitis is a condition in which eyes look red and may produce discharges. Symptoms change from burning, itching, foreign body feeling, discharge or crust formation on eyelashes. Bacteria, virus, other infectious agents, chemical products or allergies may cause conjunctivitis.
There are many different causes for conjunctivitis and each one is treated in a different way. If bacteria cause conjunctivitis, treatment with eye drops or antibiotic ointments might be indicated. Prescribed medication must be respected during the whole recommended period to avoid reoccurrence. Viral conjunctivitis does not react to antibiotics so it must be treated with supportive measures like lubrication or corticoids, according to medical observation. Allergic conjunctivitis demands crowding-out the allergen, antihistamines and dosed corticotherapy, always on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with the condition’s severity.
Bacterial or viral conjunctivitis are contagious. For this reason, frequent hand washing is the more important preventive measure. If a patient uses contact lenses, its usage should be suspended during the whole treatment period.
Most infections fade away without complications. Nevertheless, any neglected infection may result in secondary vision problems. Viral ocular infections, especially herpes, might affect vision.
Red eye is not always conjunctivitis. Sometimes it might be secondary to other eye problems such as blepharitis, foreign body, keratitis by contact lenses, uveitis or glaucoma.