A red eye is one of the first and most common symptoms of conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the tissue that lies over the white part of the eye and lines the inner side of the eyelid. It is usually the result of a viral infection and can easily spread from one person to another. Conjunctivitis can also be a symptom of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) like Gonorrhea or Chlamydia. In newborns, conjunctivitis can be vision threatening, while in grownups it is not considered a serious health risk. The symptoms of conjunctivitis differ according to the cause of the infection.
Some common symptoms of conjunctivitis are:
An eye examination and testing a sample of the fluid secreted by the eye can be used to diagnose conjunctivitis. It can easily be treated at home and does not require hospitalization. Antibiotics are often given in the form of eye drops and ointments to treat conjunctivitis. These usually need to be applied 3 to 4 times a day for a period of 5 to 6 days. Wash your eyes before putting the eye drops. Once applied, close your eyes and roll the eyeball around to distribute the medicine and keep it from overflowing out of the eye. Wash your hands immediately after applying the eye drops.
Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious. If you are suffering from it, you should take a few days off work and restrict your social interactions. Wash your hands frequently as you may unconsciously rub your eyes. This is especially important with regards to meals and finger foods. Also, avoid sharing towels, pillowcases, etc. to minimize the transmission of the disease from one person to another.
Avoid using makeup while being treated for conjunctivitis. With conjunctivitis, the eye is more sensitive to irritants and thus, a speck of makeup can worsen the situation. Also avoid contacts. If you wear contacts regularly, dispose the current set and start using a fresh set after your doctor gives you a clean chit.
Artificial tears or non prescription eye drops can also be used to relieve the itchiness and burning in the infected eye. If only one eye had been affected by conjunctivitis, do not use the same eye drop bottle for both eyes. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an ophthalmologist.