What is conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis or ‘pink eye’ as it is more generally known, is a common eye condition that cases redness and inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the thin layer of tissue that covers the front of the eye. Conjunctivitis can affect just one eye, but typically affects both. If it was caused by an allergy, it’s not uncommon to see a sticky yellow coating along the eyelashes.

What causes conjunctivitis?

The conjunctiva becomes inflamed for a number of reasons

Allergic conjunctivitis is usually the result of a bacterial or viral infection. Allergic reactions can come from pollen, dust, mites or pets.

Highly-perfumed beauty products such as shampoos, shower washes and make-up can irritate the conjunctiva, this is referred to as irritant conjunctivitis. We recommend products that are especially made for sensitive eyes/skin or ophthalmologically tested.

Can water cause conjunctivitis?

Avoid swimming in dirty and untreated water, as this can cause all types of infections.

Make sure to remove your contact lenses before you go swimming to avoid the risk of infection or irritation.

While we recommend you avoid it at all costs, if you’ve had to wear your contacts while swimming, it’s very important to dispose of them immediately after use.

Chlorinated water can also aggravate the eyes, which is why we recommend you wear goggles when swimming, or spend as little time as possible with your head under the water. Make sure to rinse your eyes after you have gone swimming. When your eyes are exposed to heavily chlorinated pool water, the tear film that usually acts as a defensive shield for your cornea is weakened.

This weakens the defences that protect your eyes from bacteria still lingering in the treated pool water, therefore making swimmers prone to eye infections. One of the most common eye infections from swimming is conjunctivitis or pink eye, which can either be viral or bacterial.

And, if you do have conjunctivitis, it’s best to avoid wearing contact lenses until the infection has fully cleared.

How to treat conjunctivitis

Treating conjunctivitis is usually very easy and consists of a short round of antibiotic eyedrops. Allergic conjunctivitis can be treated with anti-allergy medications such as antihistamines. Symptoms usually disappear within a few days or weeks depending on the severity of the outbreak.

Quick links:

A guide to red eyes
A guide to eye allergies