Causes of conjunctivitis vary but most commonly arise from:
3) Environmental irritants
Infectious causes include bacteria and viruses. The distinguishing mark of bacterial eye infection is thick mucousy discharge and crusting around the lids and eyelashes. Infectious conjunctivitis caused by bactetia can be effectively treated with ophthalmic antibiotic drops or ointment.
Viral infections produce red eyes, sore throat and runny nose – symptoms found with the common cold. There is usually a watery discharge and can last from one to two weeks, or until the virus has run its course.
Infectious conjunctivitis is highly contagious, whether it’s viral or bacterial. Contact of common objects must be avoided – towels, clothing, etc. Anything that a person touches can be contaminated. Because of this, frequent hand washing is advised.
Allergies can also produce conjunctivitis. Some allergies produce itchy, watery eyes, while others will give a chronic redness. Antihistamine eye drops can dramatically improve the symptoms of ocular allergies.
Environmental irritants, such as smoke or fumes, may cause conjunctivitis. In these cases, eradication of the offending irritant is the best remedy.