Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, as it is more commonly known, is an inflammation of the mucous membranes that cover the front of the eyeball and line the inner surface of the eyelids.
Conjunctivitis usually affects both eyes, but can affect only one in certain cases, such as when a foreign object in the eye leads to irritation.
Common symptoms of conjunctivitis include:
- Sensitivity to light
- Thick discharge (if there’s a bacterial infection)
- Swelling (if caused by allergies)
There are several causes of conjunctivitis. The infectious kind is caused by a virus or bacteria, and is contagious. Noninfectious conjunctivitis can be caused by several things, such as a foreign body getting under the eyelid, allergies, and irritants such as smoke, chlorine from a swimming pool, pollution, dust or wind. The condition dry eye can also cause conjunctivitis.
Conjunctivitis that is caused by a virus or bacteria will often clear up on its own, but will clear up much faster with antibiotics. A visit to the doctor can determine the cause of conjunctivitis. The following home remedies can help relieve the pain and discomfort of both infectious and non-infectious conjunctivitis:
If the eyes are swollen, hold an ice pack over them. Keep the ice pack on the eye long enough that the swelling goes down enough that the eyelid can close over the cornea. Otherwise, the cornea can dry out and cause further irritation.
Heat is helpful for conjunctivitis caused by a bacterial infection. Hold a hot compress over the eyes. This dilates the blood vessels, which brings fresh blood to the area, thus raising the temperature above what is optimum for the bacteria to survive. A hot compress also relaxes the eye muscles and can be very soothing for the irritation.
3. Cool Compress
Place a cool washcloth over the eyes to help relieve itching and discomfort.
4. Shield the eyes
Because your eyes are irritated, they can be extremely sensitive to light and other irritants, such as smoke. If going outside, wear sunglasses. Avoid mowing the lawn or gardening, and if swimming, be sure to wear goggles.
5. Chamomile tea
To reduce redness, place a damp chamomile tea bag over the eye(s) for about 10 minutes, three or four times per day.
6. Eye Drops
Over-the-counter eye drops can provide soothing relief. If your conjunctivitis is caused by a virus or bacteria, check with your doctor to see if they can be used.
7. Avoid rubbing
Avoid rubbing the eyes as much as possible, as this will only cause further irritation.
8. Avoid wearing contact lenses
People who have conjunctivitis should not wear contact lenses, as this can make the irritation much worse.
Conjunctivitis can be a serious condition and cause inflammation of the cornea, which can affect your vision. It’s a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor, especially if you believe your conjunctivitis to be caused by a virus or bacteria, or if you are experiencing severe eye pain or changes in your vision. These conjunctivitis treatments, however, should provide some relief and comfort.
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