How to Cure a Red Eye (Conjunctivitis)
Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane that lines the inside of the eyelids. It is usually caused by exposure to a pathogenic or irritating external agent (viruses, bacteria, fungi, allergens or foreign bodies). To treat this disorder correctly, first of all, it is necessary to understand its aetiology. By recognizing the symptoms, you can help the doctor narrow down the search field and find the right care for your case.
Recognize the Conjunctivitis
1) Identifies the symptomatology.
This inflammation can be triggered by several causes and only the doctor is able to determine them. However, you can recognize common symptoms to try to differentiate the various types of conjunctivitis. Here is a list of the most common signs:
– Red or swollen eye;
– Blurry vision;
– Eye pain;
– The sensation of a foreign body in one or both eyes;
– Increased lacrimation;
– Ocular itching;
2) Go immediately to the emergency room if the inflammation is due to contact with chemicals.
Exposure to chemicals can cause a picture similar to that of conjunctivitis. In this case, you must thoroughly wash your eyes with a sterile solution for at least fifteen minutes and then go straight to the emergency room.
Alternatively, you can call the poison centre in your city and follow the operator’s instructions. 2 JUNE 2018
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3) Exclude allergies.
These are a relatively common cause of what appears to be conjunctivitis, but which is actually allergic keratitis. Patients show most of the symptoms listed above with a special emphasis on bilateral pruritus (in both eyes). These symptoms are rather frequent but of limited duration and occur only after exposure to the allergen. Non-ocular allergic signs include rhinorrhea and sneezing.
This disorder is particularly intense during spring or autumn when the concentration of pollens is greater. Also, exposure to dog or cat dandruff can trigger or worsen the symptoms.
If you suspect you are allergic, try anti-histamines like the Benadryl.
4) Consider the additional symptoms that occur in viral conjunctivitis.
If the inflammation is caused by a virus, then you should notice typical signs. The disease could affect only one eye and the periauricular lymph nodes on the same side of the face may be painful to the touch. These are located right in front of the ear.
This disorder is usually caused by the virus that manifests itself in conjunction with a cold or flu. It is therefore not uncommon to be accompanied by a sore throat, nasal congestion and exhaustion.
5) Check the additional signs of bacterial conjunctivitis.
These depend on the type of microorganism that has infected the eye. The most frequent is the staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria that are normally found on the skin. However, even those with sexual transmissions, such as those of chlamydia and gonorrhoea, can trigger bacterial conjunctivitis.
Some reasons may be poor hand hygiene, unhealthy behaviours such as rubbing the eyes often or incorrect use of contact lenses. In the beginning, you may notice an abundant unilateral tearing or the presence of encrusted secretions that become bilateral. This development is due to the highly contagious nature of the infection that quickly affects the other eye.
In cases of conjunctivitis caused by the chlamydia bacteria, the normal symptoms of eye infection are noted, as well as an increase in lacrimation and encrusted secretions (up to the point where the eyelids remain “glued” together in the morning upon awakening).
Gonorrhoea conjunctivitis has the same symptoms as chlamydia, as well as the yellow or green secretion from the eye.
6) Go to the ophthalmologist.
Inform him of the exact symptoms that manifest due to conjunctivitis. In this way, it helps him to formulate a precise diagnosis and to go back to the cause.
The doctor will examine the eyes to understand the nature of irritation. Sample collection with a swab may also be necessary to detect bacterial infection.
7) In the case of viral infection, wait for it to resolve itself.
Just as for other disorders of viral origin, the body is able to heal spontaneously. Most viral conjunctivitis resolve within 7-14 days without long-term consequences or complications. If the ophthalmologist thinks this is a particularly serious virus (such as herpes), then he will recommend antiviral drugs.
Do not try to treat viral conjunctivitis with antibiotics, because this type of drug is effective only against bacteria.
8) Undergo a course of antibiotics if the conjunctivitis is bacterial in nature.
In less severe cases, the ophthalmologist may advise you to wait for the immune system to get rid of pathogens. However, antibiotics are necessary for serious infections. The first choice is represented by eye drops or ophthalmic antibiotic ointments to be applied to the affected eye or both. Your doctor will decide which type of eye drops will best suit you based on your medical history, sensitivity, the resistance of bacteria to other antibiotics and any allergy. Symptoms usually decrease after 3 to 5 days from the start of therapy, but you should tell your doctor how the healing proceeds. These are the most prescribed drugs against bacterial conjunctivitis:
– Ciprofloxacin 0.3% in eye drops or ointment;
– Ofloxacin 0.3%;
– Levofloxacin 0.5% in eye drops;
– Moxifloxacin 0.5% in eye drops;
– Gatifloxacin 0.5% in eye drops;
– Besifloxacin 0.6% in eye drops;
– Tobramycin 0.3%;
– 0.3% gentamicin in eye drops;
– 0.5% erythromycin in the ointment;
9) Observe every side effect.
Eye drops prescribed by the doctor to treat bacterial conjunctivitis can trigger unwanted effects. Some of the most common are burning, redness, itching, irritation and desquamation, eye pain and a foreign body sensation. If you experience symptoms due to an allergic reaction to the drug, call the ophthalmologist immediately. These are:
– Pruritus (far more common than that related to conjunctivitis);
– Difficulty breathing or swallowing;
– Oedema in the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles and lower legs.
Relieve Conjunctivitis Symptoms
10) Do not wear contact lenses.
If you carry this type of optical correction, switch to the glasses until the problem is solved. The presence of lenses in the eye increases both the discomfort and the chances of spreading the infection.
11) Apply cold and sterile compresses on the eyes.
You can find some relief from the discomfort caused by irritation thanks to the cold compresses. Put ice in a sealable plastic bag. Wrap it in a thin sheet of aluminium foil to slow down the process of melting the ice and then cover it all with a cloth or kitchen paper, so that the pack is more comfortable. Place the bag on the closed eyelid for five minutes.
Use a different compress for each eye, to avoid transmitting the infection and each time prepare a new pack.
Heat is not recommended. Although it may give you some relief, the warm environment creates a favourable condition for the development of bacterial conjunctivitis.
12) Instil of the eye drops.
Artificial tears reduce the sensation of a foreign body alleviating a bit of discomfort. Ask your optometrist for advice on using these products in conjunction with conjunctivitis.
Avoiding the spread of infection
13) Follow good hygiene habits.
Since bacterial conjunctivitis is highly contagious, you must often wash your hands during the illness, especially before and after touching your eyes. Try to be aware of every time you touch the eye area and try to avoid it as much as possible.
14) Do not share personal items.
The make-up for the eyes, towels, sunglasses and all other objects that come into contact with the eyes can carry the bacteria. Do not share them with anyone and wash them often, especially towels.
15) Use handkerchiefs and clean clothes.
When you clean your eyes from the secretions, always use a clean handkerchief to avoid getting infected again.
If you used a tissue to clean your eyes, throw it in the trash.
16) Stay at home.
Do not go to school or work until the symptoms have disappeared. An antibiotic cure reduces the risk of spreading the disease. If the ophthalmologist prescribes these medicines, ask how long you have to wait before returning to work or school.
17) Be especially vigilant with children.
Children who suffer from conjunctivitis are less scrupulous regarding the hygiene of the hands and contact with the eyes. If you are dealing with a child with conjunctivitis, follow these tips to avoid getting infected.