Blackmores conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis

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Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the delicate membrane that covers the white of the eye and lines the eyelids (the medical term for this membrane is the conjunctiva or the conjunctival membrane).

Symptoms

Some or all of the following symptoms may be present:

  • A gritty feeling in the eyes 
  • Red, burning, itchy eyes that may discharge heavy, sticky pus. Eyelids may be stuck together upon waking in the morning as the discharge has dried on the eyelashes and lids overnight  
  • Excess tear production  
  • Blurred vision 
  • Some people become sensitive to light 
  • Symptoms of infectious conjunctivitis may start in one eye and spread to the other, and may be accompanied by symptoms of respiratory infection (e.g. sore throat, sneezing) especially in babies and young children
  • An itchy, runny nose may accompany the symptoms above when the conjunctivitis is allergic in nature, and the eyes may also become puffy and swollen. In allergic conjunctivitis, both eyes are normally affected simultaneously.

Causes

Viral infections of the eyes are the most common causes of conjunctivitis.  

Allergens that may cause conjunctivitis include pollens, grasses, dust mites, animal fur and moulds. Less frequently, food allergies may contribute to the problem.

Contact irritants such as chlorine may also be involved, and irritation from the use of contact lenses may be a factor for some people.

Natural therapies

  • Horseradish is traditionally used to help clear mucus and relieve congestion of the upper respiratory tract,  so may be beneficial when sinus congestion accompanies conjunctivitis
  • Garlic is traditionally used to relieve upper respiratory tract infections. It is often taken with echinacea, which supports the functioning of the immune system. 
  • Vitamin C is also important for healthy immune system function.  Vitamin C is sometimes taken in conjunction with other nutrients that also support immune function, such as vitamins E and B6, the mineral zinc, and betacarotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A.

Diet and lifestyle

  • A cold compress may help to relieve the symptoms of conjunctivitis. Unless you are allergic to plants from the Asteraceae/Compositae families (e.g. daisies, echinacea), natural therapists sometimes recommend an eyewash or compress using chamomile tea. To make this, pour boiling water over 1-2 chamomile teabags and allow to steep for 20 minutes before removing the teabag; dip cotton balls in the cooled liquid and use them to soothe and wash the eyes. Use the eyewash 2-3 times per day, making a fresh batch each time to avoid contamination. 
  • If dust or irritants have caused the problem, flushing the eyes with saline solution to remove them may help. Take steps to protect your eyes from further irritation. For example, use eye protection when cycling, swimming, or using industrial materials such as chemicals or powdered cement. 
  • Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are highly contagious. Unless you take preventive measures, the condition may spread to your other eye or to other people. 
  • Practice good hygiene by washing your hands often and well, and keeping them away from the infected eye.  
  • Avoid sharing bedding, towels, face washers or handkerchiefs with other family members.  
  • Infectious conjunctivitis is highly contagious, so contact with others should be avoided. For example, children with infectious conjunctivitis should be kept home from school. 
  • Keep your home clean and well ventilated to reduce the build-up of dust mites, animal hair and mould.

Important notes

Consult your healthcare professional if:

  • Swelling, itching and redness of the eyes develops suddenly and is accompanied by hives, breathing difficulties or stomach cramps. Seek urgent medical assistance. This may be symptomatic of anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction).
  • Your eyes become red when you wear contact lenses; you may need to switch to a different form of lens or lens solution, or you may need to wear your contact lenses for shorter periods of time 
  • You experience blurred or hazy vision 
  • One eye is exceptionally sore, watering or producing pus; a foreign body may be lodged beneath the eyelid 
  • Your conjunctivitis recurs frequently or appears to be getting worse after a week of home treatment 
  • Your new-born baby's eyes are inflamed and are not producing tears