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Back behind the wheel: Conjunctivitis: Get the red out!

Have you ever waken up in the morning with itchy red eyes or even worse have not been able to open your eyes because they are pasted shut? Well, you most probably had conjunctivitis.


Dr. Christopher Singh

Dr. Christopher Singh


Have you ever waken up in the morning with itchy red eyes or even worse have not been able to open your eyes because they are pasted shut? Well, you most probably had conjunctivitis.

Conjunctivitis is just a fancy word for the common condition known as “Pink Eye.” In this condition the conjunctiva, the clear membrane covering the white of the eye and lining the eyelids, becomes inflamed.

This causes the eye to become red and sore and actually looks much worse than it really is. One or both eyes may be affected, and in some cases it begins in one eye then spreads to the other.

There are several causes for this condition which include bacterial or viral infection, allergic reaction or irritation of such things as smoke, pollution or ultraviolet light.

Bacterial conjunctivitis, which is very common, may be caused by any of several types of bacteria. Viral conjunctivitis is commonly caused by one of the viruses that is responsible for the common cold.

Conjunctivitis due to a bacterial or viral infection can be spread by hand-to-eye contact and is usually highly contagious. Here is yet another great reason to wash your hands regularly.

Allergic conjunctivitis is a common feature of hay fever and of allergies to dust, pollen, and other airborne substances.

The symptoms of conjunctivitis usually develop over a period of a few hours and is most commonly first noticed upon waking in the morning.

The symptoms generally include redness of the white of the eye, swelling and itching of the eye and in some cases there may be a yellowish discharge from the affected eye.

This discharge may dry out during sleep and form a crust on the eyelashes and eyelid margins.

Due to this, the eyelids may stick together on waking.

In most cases, the symptoms can be relieved by bathing the eye with artificial tears.

To avoid spreading infection, wash your hands after touching the eye and do not share towels or wash cloths.

If you are susceptible to allergic conjunctivitis, avoid exposure to triggering substances.

This condition rarely causes permanent eye damage, however, if your eye becomes painful and red, you should consult your doctor to rule out the possibility of a more serious condition.

If your doctor suspects that your conjunctivitis may be due to an infection, he or she may take a sample of the discharge to identify the cause.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is treated by applying antibiotic drops or ointments to the eye.

In these cases, the symptoms usually improve within 48 hours.

However, the treatment should be continued for two to 10 days, even if the symptoms are gone to make sure that the infection is totally eradicated.

Most viral infections cannot be treated with drugs but their symptoms usually clear up within two to three days.

Until next month, drive safely!

– Dr. Christopher Singh, B. Kin., D.C., runs Trans Canada Chiropractic at 230 Truck Stop in Woodstock, Ont.


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