Conjunctivitis is the inflammation and/or infection of the conjunctiva (the lining of the eyelids) of the eye. It is a common eye disorder in children and can be contagious especially in daycare and school age children. Conjunctivitis may be due to a bacterial infection, a viral infection, or allergies. Symptoms of conjunctivitis may include itchiness, tearing, and redness of the eye. Eyelid swelling and watery or yellow discharge may also be present. In the case of bacterial conjunctivitis, a thick yellow or green eye discharge may cause the eyelids to stick together particularly after sleeping
Conjunctivitis is typically easy to treat. Viral conjunctivitis often occurs at the time of an upper respiratory infection or cold and will usually go away on its own in a couple of days. It requires supportive care only. Bacterial conjunctivitis often requires treatment with antibiotic eye drops or ointment. Allergic conjunctivitis responds to avoidance of the known allergens, cold compresses, and prescription or over-the-counter anti-histamines.
Occasionally, conjunctivitis can be a serious infection. A referral to an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) may be necessary if the infection is associated with loss of vision, pain, or severe sensitivity to light or if there is evidence of a more serious infection involving other parts of the eye. A referral may also be necessary if the conjunctivitis does not respond to treatment in two to three days.