Help and frequently asked questions

Why does my conjunctivitis keep coming back?


Conjunctivitis is an eye infection or allergic irritation and is a common issue in children and adults. What is conjunctivitisSometimes called 'pink eye' or 'sticky eye', conjunctivitis can be caused by either a bacterial or viral infection, ultraviolet burn, allergy or chemical irritation. It is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the clear membrane covering the white part of your eye as well as the inner surface of your eyelids. It can make your eyes look extremely red and it can spread quickly. Other symptoms include itchy, swollen eyes and discharge. 

Despite the discharge, conjunctivitis will not impair your vision. How is conjunctivitis treated?

If you have the symptoms of conjunctivitis, you will need to see your doctor or optometrist to get antibiotics if it is caused by an infection, or antihistamines to treat allergic conjunctivitis. In the case of an infection, you will be prescribed either antibiotic drops or ointment, which must be used until they are finished, or as recommended by your optometrist. Conjunctivitis is extremely contagious so you will need to take certain steps to prevent spreading it. This means you will need to avoid touching or rubbing your eyes. Make sure you do not share your flannels, washcloths or towels with other people, and that you regularly wash your hands and use paper towels to dry them. While your eyes are red, you will need to avoid eye makeup. Children should be kept home until their eyes are no longer pink to avoid passing this infection on. 

How long will conjunctivitis last?

The symptoms of conjunctivitis can develop quickly over the course of 24 to 72 hours after coming into contact with the bacteria. This will last anywhere from two days to two or three weeks. If you are still experiencing pain or other symptoms after three weeks, you should visit your optometrist again. Some people get conjunctivitis chronically and is sometimes is associated with blepharitis,  an infection in the eyelids, which can be a recurring condition but has no serious effect. It can also include styes, morning eyelash crusting, eyelash loss or foreign body sensation. Any conjunctivitis that lasts more than four weeks is considered chronic. 

What if my conjunctivitis returns?

Persistent conjunctivitis could be a sign that there is an underlying illness, preventing your body from fighting the disease. This could be a rheumatic disease such as arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus. It can also be Kawasaki's disease. If your conjunctivitis has not cleared up, or is recurring, you should visit your doctor or optometrist to rule out any underlying causes. What is a subconjuctival hemorrhageIf the whites of your eyes turn bright red, this could be the result of the tiny blood vessels rupturing as a result of trauma or because of a change in pressure in your head. This could be caused by laughing forcefully, bending upside down or vomiting. Often confused with conjunctivitis, this is called subconjunctival hemorrhage and is generally harmless. It does not affect vision, and generally only affects a local part of the sclera (white part of your eye) and does not involve the iris (coloured part).