The conjunctiva is a thin layer of cells which cover the white part of your eye and the inner surfaces of your eyelids. Conjunctivitis is a condition where the conjunctive becomes inflamed.
Conjunctivitis can be split into three types: allergic, infective and irritant.
- Allergic conjunctivitis Allergic conjunctivitis accounts for around 15% of all eye-related problems recorded and happens when your eye comes into contact with something which triggers an allergic reaction. Common examples of substances triggering allergic conjunctivitis include dust, pollen and animal fur.
- Infective conjunctivitis. Infective conjunctivitis is usually caused by a virus or bacteria. In rare cases it can also be triggered by sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea. Infective conjunctivitis is a very common condition and is responsible for 35% of all eye-related problems recorded. Symptoms include red, watery eyes and a stickiness around the eyelashes, particularly when waking up in the morning. This usually doesn’t require any treatment as the infection usually heals on its own within a couple of weeks.
- Irritant conjunctivitis. This is when an irritant such as an eyelash or chlorine gets into your eyes making your eyes sore. If you rub your eyes the sore sensation will often get worse.