|Inflammation of the conjunctiva is usually
caused by either infection or allergy. The eye is red
and uncomfortable but pain is not common.
Infective conjunctivitis usually present with discharging
or sticky eyes. There may be
a history of contact with people with red eyes.
Allergic conjunctivitis is commonly seen in patients with
atopy or hay fever. Itchy red
eye is a prominent feature
The visual acuity is normal although in some cases of viral
conjunctivitis caused by
adenovirus, the vision may be blurred due to associated
One or both eyes may be affected and the eyelids may be swollen
The conjunctiva is oedematous and there are visible changes
on the tarsal conjunctiva
In the general practice, it is difficult to differentiate
between bacterial from viral conjunctivitis.
However, it is acceptable to treat all infective conjunctivitis
with topical antibiotics such as
chloramphenicol as it can prevent secondary infection
in viral conjunctivitis. The conjunctivitis
usually takes about one or two weeks to settle.
Patient with allergic conjunctivitis will benefit from topical
sodium cromoglycate such as opticrom.
Oral antihistamine (such as triludene) is useful in reducing
itchiness. It is important to determine
the cause as the allergen (for example eye drops or cosmetic)
may be eliminated.
Refer the patient to the casualty only if the conjunctivitis
fails to respond to treatment
A patient with conjunctivitis. Note the lumpy appearance
of the tarasal conjunctiva
(best seen with the lid everted). These may be infectious
or allergic. A history of
itchiness favours allergic conjunctivitis whereas sticky
eye infective conjunctivitis.
Return to the red eye