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Eye Infections – Hello Health Hub

Eye Infections – Hello Health Hub
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What is an eye infection?

An eye infection is generally known as conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the tissue that lines the inside of the eyelids. Conjunctivitis comes in a variety of forms and causes.

Infectious conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria or viruses. Non-infectious conjunctivitis can be caused by allergies or irritation. Conjunctivitis is usually a minor ailment that goes away on its own after 5 to 14 days, depending on the cause.

Main types of conjunctivitis

There are 4 main types of conjunctivitis inflammation:

Viral Conjunctivitis

  • Infection of the eye caused by a virus
  • Can be caused by several different viruses, such as adenoviruses
  • Very contagious
  • Sometimes can result in large outbreaks depending on the virus

Bacterial Conjunctivitis

  • Infection of the eye caused by certain bacteria
  • Can be caused by Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis, or, less commonly, Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae
  • Can be spread easily, especially with certain bacteria and in certain settings
  • Children with conjunctivitis without fever or behavioural changes can usually continue going to school
  • More common in kids than adults
  • Observed more frequently from December through April

Allergic Conjunctivitis

  • The body’s reaction to an allergen
  • Not contagious
  • Occurs more frequently among people with other allergic conditions, such as hay fever, asthma, and eczema
  • Can occur seasonally when allergens such as pollen counts are high
  • Can also occur year-round due to indoor allergens, such as dust mites

Conjunctivitis Caused by Irritants

  • Caused by irritation from a foreign body in the eye or contact with smoke, dust, fumes, or chemicals
  • Not contagious
  • Can occur when contact lenses are worn for longer than recommended or not cleaned properly

Eye infection symptoms include:

  • Red irritated eye(s)
  • Grittiness and discomfort in the eye(s)
  • Sticky mucous/ discharge from the eye(s)
  • Light sensitivity
  • Redness behind the eyelid
  • Swelling of the eyelids, making them appear puffy
  • Excessive tears
  • You should not have any change in your vision

Conjunctivitis Treatments

Eye infection treatments to try at home:

  • Avoiding rubbing the eyes
  • Washing your hands regularly with soap and water before touching the eye
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses while you have conjunctivitis
  • Using separate towels to others to avoid spread
  • Avoiding close contact with others during the contagious period (up to approximately 7 days after onset of symptoms)
  • Applying a cold compress and/ or refrigerated artificial tears drops to relieve irritation
  • Washing the eye with a saline eye bath or cooled, boiled water
  • Using sterile eye wipes or cotton wool dipped in cool, boiled water to wipe the eye clean
  • Applying antihistamine drops if your conjunctivitis is caused by allergies such as hay fever

How a pharmacist can help with conjunctivitis:

  • A pharmacist can provide you with information about medications that may be of us
  • They can help you to determine if your conjunctivitis may be contagious or not
  • They can also advise the best eye drops, eye ointments & eye wipes to lessen the symptoms

When to contact your GP:

  • You have pain in the eye
  • You have changes in your vision
  • Your symptoms don’t improve after a week
  • You keep getting conjunctivitis
  • The person with conjunctivitis is less than one month old

Treatment for conjunctivitis that a GP might offer:

  • Antibiotic eye drops
  • Antibiotic eye ointments
  • Antihistamine eye drops
  • Steroid eye drops
  • Antiviral tablets