The conjunctiva is the thin tissue, or membrane, that lines the inside of the eyelid and covers the sclera (the white part of the eye). Its function is to help lubricate the eye by producing mucus and, to a lesser degree, tears. It also helps to prevent illness by preventing microbes from entering the eye. Some common issues with the conjunctiva include:
Allergic conjunctivitis is a reaction of the eye caused by environmental influences, such as dust, pollen and animal dander, and, in some cases, medications. It is not an infection and is not contagious but can be very irritating.
The conjunctiva can be affected by becoming pink and bloodshot. Symptoms include itching, stinging, tearing and burning. Prescription and non-prescription eye drops are used to alleviate the allergic reaction. Cold compresses can also be helpful in reducing itching and swelling and can be soothing to children suffering from allergic conjunctivitis.
General conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is a condition caused by bacteria, viruses or chemicals. Symptoms may include burning, itching, irritation, discharge or crusting of the lashes.
If caused by bacteria or viruses, it can be contagious. If your child has general conjunctivitis, be sure to wash your hands before touching your face or eyes to prevent contamination. Bacterial conjunctivitis is treated with antibiotic drops or ointment. Viral conjunctivitis does not respond to antibiotics, but cold compresses and lubricating ointments can be soothing until the condition passes.
Source: American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus
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