This text provides information in simple language on the topic: conjunctivitis.

What is conjunctivitis?

The conjunctiva can become inflamed. Then the eye turns red. It itches and burns. Often times, the eye will also water. Conjunctivitis is often contagious. But a doctor can treat the disease on the eye.

The conjunctiva is on the eye. It's inside on the eyelid and on the white eyeball. The conjunctiva is thin, transparent and there is blood supply to it. The conjunctiva is a mucous membrane. It moisturizes the eye and protects it from pathogens.

Nevertheless, bacteria or viruses can irritate the conjunctiva. Then the conjunctiva is supplied with even more blood and it turns red. The body therefore releases proteins and white blood cells. They fight off the bacteria or the viruses. That means: the body fights the pathogen.

This is how the eye is constructed: The conjunctiva is on the inside of the eyelid and on the white eyeball.

© Shutterstock / Designua

How can you recognize conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis can show several signs. The most common sign is a red eye. Sometimes the eye is itchy or watery. In some people, the eyes are particularly sensitive to light or the eyelid is sticky in the morning.

You think: you may have conjunctivitis? Then go to the ophthalmologist. The ophthalmologist will examine your eye and give you all the important information.

What are the causes of conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis can have various causes. These include, for example:

  • Viruses
  • bacteria
  • Allergies
  • some drugs
  • dust
  • too dry an eye
  • Chlorine in the swimming pool

Are bacteria or viruses the cause of conjunctivitis? Then the conjunctivitis is contagious. You should therefore:

  • don't touch the eye,
  • Do not share towels with other people,
  • do not shake hands with other people,

Wash your hands regularly with soap. This prevents the contagious disease from being passed on to other people.

What can you do about conjunctivitis?

Talk to an ophthalmologist. The ophthalmologist will give you all the important information and medication.

An ointment or eye drops can help with bacterial conjunctivitis. The ointment and eye drops then contain an antibiotic. The antibiotic kills the bacteria and the eye recovers.

Is an allergy the cause of conjunctivitis? Then antihistamines, for example, can help. Antihistamines are allergy drugs. They help with an allergic reaction. The eye recovers.

Note: Do not use chamomile tea on the eyes. Chamomile tea can cause allergies. And chamomile tea is not sterile. That means: germs can get into the eye.

Where can you get more information?

Would you like to read more about conjunctivitis? You can find more information about conjunctivitis here. Attention: This link leads out of our simple language offer. The information is then no longer in plain language.

Attention: This text only contains general information. The text does not replace a visit to the doctor. Only a doctor can give you accurate information. Are you feeling sick? Or do you have questions about an illness? Then you should always see a doctor.

We wrote the texts together with the Light Language Research Center. The light language research center is at the University of Hildesheim.

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