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April 15, 2014



Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the membrane that lines the inside of the eyelids and folds back to cover the white of the eye. It plays a major protective role by preventing foreign bodies from entering the eyes. It also produces the liquid that keeps them lubricated.

Causes of conjunctivitis 

Conjunctivitis can be caused by viruses, bacteria, allergies or contact with an irritating product.

 When due to a virus or bacterium, it is usually highly contagious.

Symptoms of conjunctivitis 

Conjunctivitis is associated with the following symptoms:
•    Gritty, sand-in-the-eye sensation
•    Bloodshot eyes
•    Swollen eyelids
•    Tearing
•    Crusty eyes upon waking, especially in the case of bacterial conjunctivitis 
Conjunctivitis can affect one or both eyes. 

Treatment options

Viral conjunctivitis is often associated with the common cold, when eyes come into contact with virus-laden nasal secretions. It is contagious, but usually disappears on its own after a few days. Antibiotics are useless in treating it, since they do not work on viruses. 
Bacterial conjunctivitis can be caused by different types of bacteria. It is contagious as well. It can be treated with antibiotic ointments or eye drops. Some eye drops are available behind the prescription counter after consulting with the pharmacist, but most of them must be prescribed by a doctor or optometrist. Children with bacterial conjunctivitis can return to school or daycare 24 hours after starting their antibiotic treatment, if their general health is good.
Since both of these types of conjunctivitis are contagious, people with the infection should take all the necessary precautions to prevent its spread to others. This includes frequent hand washing, especially after contact with the infected eyes. 
For a conjunctivitis caused by allergies, there are special eye drops formulated for this purpose. When it is caused by an irritating product (e.g., chlorine from a pool), treatment is not usually required since the problem will clear up on its own within a few hours. Lubricating eye drops can nevertheless be used to clean the affected eye.
For all cases of conjunctivitis, cool compresses applied to the eyes can help ease the irritation and discomfort. Remember to always use a different compress for each eye. 

Pharmacy services

Red, itchy eyes? Consult your family pharmacists! They can help you determine which type of conjunctivitis you have and give you valuable advice on finding relief.
Did you know? Your pharmacists can also prescribe* medications for certain minor health problems, including allergic conjunctivitis, when the treatment and diagnosis are known.  A consultation will be required so the pharmacist can make sure you meet the prescribing criteria. 

To avail yourself of this service, you may need to book an appointment with your family pharmacist. Ask a member of the pharmacy team for more details. Some Uniprix-affiliated pharmacies also offer an online appointment booking service. To locate the store nearest you providing this service, click here




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The Website deals with health-related topics. The information presented has been validated by experts and is accurate at the time of posting. In no way does it replace the opinion of a health care professional. Uniprix Inc. and its affiliated pharmacists accept no liability whatsoever in connection with the information provided on this Website.