Conjunctivitis (Red Eyes)

Conjunctivitis (Red Eyes)

This is an acute inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye, which becomes very red with a mucous or pus discharge.

The conjunctiva is a thin transparent membrane, normally sparsely supplied by blood vessels, covering the sclera or the white of the eye and the inner surfaces of the upper and lower lids. The usual conjunctivitis is due to a bacterial infection—rarely viral. It is characterised by acute redness of the eyes, watering, sensitivity to light and typically a sensation of dust or sand in the eyes. There is a fair amount of mucous and pus discharge, and a tendency for the lids to be gummed up when waking in the morning.

Since it is contagious, care must be taken that towels and other personal articles of the patient are not used by other members of the family. If the other eye is not infected, the patient should sleep on the infected side so that the secretions may not run into and affect the normal eye.

The treatment is fairly simple: washing the eye with dilute boric solution or even salt water thrice a day and the use of antibiotic drops. Oral antibiotics may need to be given if the swelling is excessive with the patient feeling feverish.

Glaucoma and other inflammatory conditions inside the eye often mimic conjunctivitis and a complacent attitude may lead to irrevocable damage. Since the chances of complications like corneal ulcers occurring are also there, it is best to visit an eye specialist who is better able to handle your case rather than attempt home treatment.

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