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Conjunctivitis Treatment From Your Lewiston Eye Care Specialist
The common view of conjunctivitis is one of kids sharing it with their classmates, but it's a disease that anyone can contract. At Family Eye Health and Contact Lens Center, the most common patients we see with this condition are school children, teachers and daycare workers, and college students. It may look and sound scary, but conjunctivitis is easily treated, and can even be avoided in most cases with the right precautions.
Optometrist In Lewiston Describes Conjunctivitis
Dr. Reginald Mailhot, our optometrist in Lewiston, teaches patients and parents that conjunctivitis is an eye inflammation that affects the clear layer covering the whites of the eyes, as well as inside the eyelid. This covering is normally transparent, but it contains blood vessels, which dilate when the covering is inflamed. This is what gives conjunctivitis its distinctive red-eyed look.
Causes of Conjunctivitis
There are multiple causes for this disease, and each one has its own treatment methods. From most common to least, they are:
- Viral conjunctivitis, which is caused by a virus like the common cold. This type is the most common and is very contagious. It will, however, clear up on its own without needing any type of medication.
- Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused, of course, by bacteria. This is a much more serious version of the disease, and it can cause permanent damage to the eyes if it's not treated.
- Allergic conjunctivitis is the least serious of these examples, and it caused by eye irritants with people who have sensitivities to these substances. It can be seasonal based with substances such as pollen, or last year round with sensitivities to animal dander or dust.
It's not surprising that the first symptom of a disease known as pink eye is a pink appearance in the whites of the eye. Other symptoms you may have will depend on the type of conjunctivitis you've contracted. With viral conjunctivitis, you'll have itchy, watery eyes and will be sensitive to light. It's highly contagious and can be spread by just coughing or sneezing.
With bacterial conjunctivitis, you'll have greenish discharge from the tear ducts which can be bad enough to glue the eyelids shut overnight. It's contagious but is spread by direct contact through the hands or through objects like washcloths and towels.
If you have allergic conjunctivitis, you'll experience itchy, watery and burning eyes. It will often be accompanied by a stuffy nose and sneezing and sometimes light sensitivity. It's not contagious at all.
Each form of this disease has its own type of treatment. If you have viral conjunctivitis, no medical treatment is necessary. It will clear up by itself in a few days. Apply a cool, damp washcloth to the eyes three or four times a day to relieve the symptoms. Because it's so contagious, make sure no one else has contact with these washcloths.
For the more serious bacterial conjunctivitis, our optometrist will prescribe antibiotic ointment or eye drops.
If you've got allergic conjunctivitis, most over the counter allergy medications will relieve your symptoms. Check with your doctor about when and how often to take these medications.
Conjunctivitis isn't always a serious disease, but it's important to determine which type you have before treating it at home. Our experienced team can help you to relieve your symptoms as well as advise on how to prevent further flare-ups. Call our office at 207-782-9501 to make an appointment.