Allergic conjunctivitis. Keratitis is where your cornea (the front of your eye) becomes swollen. The following 'red flags' point to more serious diagnoses, such as keratitis, iritis, or angle closure glaucoma: Irritant or traumatic conjunctivitis can be suspected when: Symptoms of irritant or traumatic conjunctivitis generally improve spontaneously within 24 hours. This might help in the recovery of eyes in a few hours. 2. The recommended treatment for conjunctivitis will depend on whether it is caused by infection, an allergic reaction or an irritant such as a stray eyelash. The child may also experience mucus discharge. This type of allergic conjunctivitis can affect your daily life and could make it difficult for you to concentrate at work or school, particularly if your eyes are severely irritated. Infective conjunctivitis can be caused by several bacterial and viral pathogens. For example, your conjunctiva may become red and inflamed after getting shampoo in your eyes, or after you rub your eyes when chopping chillies. The lower conjunctival sac is affected more than the upper (splash injury). A swab looks similar to a cotton bud. Find out more about your symptoms, when you can use self-care, and what to do if your condition worsens and you need medical help. Allergic conjunctivitis. This is known as an allergic reaction. Chat to an NHS operator in our Live Chat - opens a new window, a bacterial or viral infection – this is known as infective conjunctivitis, an allergic reaction to a substance such as pollen or dust mites – this is known as allergic conjunctivitis, the eye coming into contact with things that can irritate the conjunctiva, such as shampoo or chlorinated water, or a loose eyelash rubbing against the eye – this is known as irritant conjunctivitis, a severe case of allergic conjunctivitis can lead to scarring in the eye, in cases of infective conjunctivitis, the infection can spread to other areas of the body, triggering more serious secondary infections, such as, eye redness – as a result of the inflammation and widening of the tiny blood vessels in the conjunctiva (the thin layer of cells covering the front of the eyes), a discharge – the conjunctiva contains thousands of cells that produce mucus and tiny glands that produce tears – inflammation causes the glands to become overactive, so that they produce more water and mucus, a sticky coating on the eyelashes – usually when you first wake up in the morning, an enlarged lymph node (gland) in front of the ear, grass pollen, released during the end of spring and beginning of summer, weed pollen, released any time from early spring to late autumn, an allergic reaction (allergic conjunctivitis), something irritating the conjunctiva, such as a loose eyelash (irritant conjunctivitis), bacteria – for example, the strains of bacteria that often cause lung and ear infections, a virus – most commonly an adenovirus that may also cause a, you're old or young – it's more common in children and the elderly, possibly because children come into contact with more infections at school, and elderly people may have a weaker immune system, you've recently had an upper respiratory tract infection – such as a, you have blepharitis (inflammation of the rims of the eyelids) – which can be caused by a bacterial infection and may lead to conjunctivitis, you've been in a crowded place – such as a busy train, a prostheses (artificial) part of the eye that's fitted during eye surgery, a stray eyelash rubbing against the conjunctiva, acute glaucoma – a rare form of glaucoma that causes a painful build-up of pressure in your eye, keratitis – where the cornea (the clear layer at the front of your eye) becomes swollen and develops open sores. Allergic conjunctivitis can usually be treated with anti-allergy medications such as antihistamines. Irritant conjunctivitis will clear up as soon as whatever is causing it is removed. Home The following symptoms could be the sign of a more serious eye condition: Contact your GP immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. Bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with antibiotics, such as chloramphenicol or fusidic acid, which are normally in the form eye-drops. Allergic conjunctivitis represents a serious problem, depending on the symptoms severity and the lengh of time passed since the first signs of the disease. Infective conjunctivitis caused by any type of bacteria can result in a number of complications, particularly in babies born prematurely (before week 37 of pregnancy). Most eye drops contain chemicals (preservatives) that may irritate your eyes. Batterbury M, Bowling B. Ophthalmology: An Illustrated Colour Text, Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier Science Ltd 2003. Conjunctivitis is a common condition that causes redness and inflammation of the thin layer of tissue that covers the front of the eye (the conjunctiva). This type takes longer to clear up. Antibiotics can shorten recovery time for bacterial conjunctivitis, and reduce the spread of infection to others. It can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, an allergic reaction or by your eye coming into contact with an irritant. Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause conjunctivitis. All forms of conjunctivitis are characterised by: Severe injury to the eye can involve the cornea (keratitis) or result in penetration of the orbit. Avoid driving or operating machinery straight after using eye drops. It's very important to go back to your GP if you still have symptoms after two weeks. Most forms of conjunctivitis are self-limiting but in certain cases, severe complications may occur. Mild viral conjunctivitis often clears up without treatment in one to two weeks, but in some cases, it can take three weeks or more. Acute Bacterial Conjunctivitis The redness and swelling of the conjunctiva in this form of conjunctivitis is usually more pronounced on the under surfaces of the eyelids than over the “white” part of the eye. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva. The problem can keep coming back. However, infective conjunctivitis can sometimes be confused with other types of conjunctivitis, which are treated differently. Conjunctivitis can be very contagious. It's often better for children and elderly people because it doesn't need to be used as often. If your symptoms are severe or don't respond to treatment, you may need to see an eye specialist (ophthalmologist). Although this can affect your quality of life, it shouldn't cause any long-term health problems. If possible, you should avoid the substance that triggered the allergy. Both eyes are usually affected and you may find the symptoms worse in the morning. Antibiotics can shorten recovery time for bacterial conjunctivitis, and reduce the spread of infection to others. Your GP may suggest further tests, such as a swab test, if your conjunctivitis hasn't responded to treatment, or to help decide what treatment to use. Conjunctivitis can be a frustrating condition – particularly allergic conjunctivitis – but in most cases it doesn't pose a serious threat to health. In newborn babies (neonates) up to 28 days old, infective conjunctivitis can lead to a severe and rapidly progressive eye infection. If eye drops aren't suitable for you, you may be prescribed the antibiotic as an eye ointment instead. Fusidic acid may be prescribed if chloramphenicol isn't suitable for you. Conjunctivitis can affect one eye at first, but usually affects both eyes after a few hours. What to do next. Chlorine in swimming pools is a common cause of mild irritant conjunctivitis. Don’t include personal information e.g. How is an irritant or traumatic conjunctivitis treated? This prevents the symptoms of the allergic reaction occurring. You may be prescribed an antihistamine such as: You'll usually only have to take an antihistamine once a day. Complications of conjunctivitis are rare, but when they do occur they can be serious and include: Read more about the complications of conjunctivitis. If you have allergic conjunctivitis, it makes sense to limit your exposure to the allergens that are causing the condition. Speak to your GP for advice. A doctor can advise on the best treatment approach. However, more serious cases may require specialist medical treatment. Depending on the underlying cause, your cat may need antibiotics or antiviral medication. For the worst cases, topical steroid drops may be prescribed to reduce the discomfort from inflammation. Finally, conjunctivitis caused by irritants, such as chemicals, fungi and foreign bodies that enter the eyes and/or eyelids, tends to produce mucus discharge and watery eyes. It's used to collect a small sample of mucus from your infected eye, which is sent to a laboratory to find out the cause of your conjunctivitis. Steroid eye drops may also be recommended for persistent cases. This might help in the recovery of eyes in a few hours. Like chloramphenicol, fusidic acid comes in the form of eye drops and should be used as advised by your doctor or as described in the instructions that come with the medication. Allergic conjunctivitis: In this type, the allergen comes into contact with the eye like dust mites, pollen, or animal fur. Each treatment option is discussed in more detail below. Contact us to sponsor a DermNet newsletter. This includes eye drops. But these will not work if it's caused by a virus (viral conjunctivitis) or an allergy. Irritant conjunctivitis will clear up as soon as whatever is causing it is removed. If you have any of these symptoms, it's very important to seek medical assistance immediately, either by contacting your GP or going to your nearest hospital. If treatment is thought necessary, the type of treatment will depend on the cause but in most cases antibiotic eye drops can be used to clear the infection. If this isn't possible, call NHS 24's '111' service or your local out-of-hours service. This is very contagious so your little one needs to stay home. Antibiotics aren't usually prescribed for infective conjunctivitis because it usually clears up by itself and there's a very low risk of complications for untreated conjunctivitis. Remove your contact lenses – if you wear contact lenses, take them out until all the symptoms of the infection have gone; don't re-use old lenses after the infection has gone because they could be a potential source of re-infection; always use new lenses, solutions and cases after an infection. Mast cell stabilisers that are commonly prescribed in the form of eye drops include: If your symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis are particularly severe, you may be prescribed a short course of topical corticosteroids (a cream, gel or ointment). This type of conjunctivitis carries a high risk of complications, so you need to seek medical advice as soon as possible. Treatment of Conjunctivitis caused by irritants. If your conjunctivitis is caused by an allergic reaction to pollen, dust mites or similar (seasonal and perennial allergic conjunctivitis), it's very rare to experience any serious complications. Some people are allergic to wearing contact lenses, which is known as giant papillary conjunctivitis. Treatment and remedies. Allergic conjunctivitis Irritants such as pollen, animal hair, mold, or dust mite feces can cause allergic conjunctivitis if they get into the eye. Infectious conjunctivitis. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. There are four main types of allergic conjunctivitis: Seasonal and perennial allergic conjunctivitis are usually caused by: These types of conjunctivitis are more common in people who also have other allergies, such as asthma, and often occur with allergic rhinitis. Irritant and allergic conjunctivitis are less serious and usually resolve when the cause of the inflammation is removed. Systemic or topical glucocorticoids should only be used under specialist advice to avoid sight-threatening complications. This causes your eye to turn red and feel sore. Irritant conjunctivitis will clear up as soon as whatever is causing it is removed. Description Conjunctivitis is a common condition that causes redness and inflammation of the thin layer of tissue that covers the front of the eye (the conjunctiva). Allergic conjunctivitis: Symptoms usually improve as soon as the allergen is removed from contact. It's best not to wear contact lenses until the symptoms have cleared up. It's best not to wear contact lenses until the symptoms have cleared up. Irritant conjunctivitis: The eye may become pink and watery after it comes in contact with an irritant. The goal of treatment in irritant conjunctivitis is to remove the source of irritation. Chloramphenicol needs to be used carefully to get the best results, so make sure you follow the advice of your pharmacist about how and when to use it, or check the patient information leaflet that comes with the medication so you know how to use it properly. This includes regular eye examinations and contact lens check-ups. If this is the case, your symptoms may last for several months. Treatment according to the underlying cause or primary type of conjunctivitis involves: Viral conjunctivitis. Irritant conjunctivitis: caused by contact with certain chemicals (swimming pool chlorine, make-up, tobacco, pollution …), which can irritate your eye. Topics A–Z Since viral, allergic, and nonspecific conjunctivitis typically resolve on their own, medical providers often advise against treatment for these conditions. Irritant conjunctivitis is something most of us have experienced occasionally. Contact lens wearers should immediately remove the lenses if redness or irritation of the eye occurs. See smartphone apps to check your skin. For irritant conjunctivitis, no treatment is generally prescribed; the condition will clear up on its own once the irritant has been cleared from the eye, though eye drops and compresses may help with symptoms. Irritant conjunctivitis occurs when an irritant, such as chlorine (a chemical often used to purify water) or an eyelash, gets into the eyes, making them sore. Rubbing your eyes can make your symptoms worse. People often refer to conjunctivitis as red eye. Chloramphenicol is usually the first choice of antibiotic and comes in the form of eye drops. If there are a number of conjunctivitis cases at your child's school or nursery, you may be advised to keep them away until their infection has cleared up. If you wear contact lenses, take them out until all the signs and symptoms of the conjunctivitis have gone. In: eTG complete [Internet]. If treatment is needed, the type of treatment will depend on the cause. Antihistamines (either oral or drops) can give relief in the meantime. This can lead to an eye infection. The pattern of symptoms for allergic conjunctivitis depends on the substance you're allergic to. Speak to a pharmacist about conjunctivitis. 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