Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the mucous membrane covering the inside of the eyelid, extending to the anterior part of the eyeball. The cause is usually a virus, bacteria or allergy.
Patients usually present reddening, light sensitivity, inflamed eyelids, watery eyes and, depending on the cause, conjunctival secretions when bacterial, enlarged glands in viruses and inflammation of the edge of the eyelid in irritations or allergies. It usually lasts between one and three weeks although, if the conjunctivitis is severe, the patient may suffer from repercussions for longer.
Conjunctivitis can be highly contagious and it's therefore very important to wash your hands thoroughly with soap after touching the infected eye.
Firstly, both eyes need to be cleaned with sterile saline solution.
It's necessary to consult a specialist because, if there's an infection, the ophthalmologist will administer a treatment with collyria or ointment to cure it, depending on the cause.
Vernal conjunctivitis is one of the most frequent allergies in the warmer months. Allergens such as tree or grass pollen, which are more prevalent at this time of year, make the symptoms worse.
Itching is the main symptom of this illness. It can also cause red or watery eyes, inflamed eyelids, secretions, eye pain and, in severe cases, light sensitivity and blurred vision.
It can be associated with nasal problems such as allergic rhinitis or pharynx problems.
Control of the environmental factor is the most important care for those who suffer from vernal allergic conjunctivitis. It's important to identify the agent causing the conjunctivitis and to avoid contact with it. When exposure has already taken place, washing with saline solution or artificial tears may clean allergens from the eye's surface and reduce contact time.
Allergy tests must be carried out to determine the allergens that have caused the conjunctivitis, enabling its possible treatment with vaccinations to be evaluated.
Topical antihistamines are used in slight cases of seasonal allergic conjunctivitis. In moderate cases or those with extraocular problems such as nasal or cutaneous, oral antihistamines are added. In the most severe cases the recommended treatment also includes topical corticosteroids.
Systemic steroid treatments may have to be administered in the case of very severe allergies.
However, it's advisable to consult an ophthalmologist as soon as any discomfort is noticed to evaluate the state and severity of the pathology and to receive the most suitable treatment for each specific case.
Dr. Paula Verdaguer, M.D. PhD
COMB license number: 40.737
Specialising in cornea, refractive surgery and cataracts