Conjunctivitis is a common childhood illness characterised by discomfort and redness of the eyes, often associated with a discharge and itchiness.
Conjunctivitis can sometimes be confused for allergies because red, itchy, watery eyes can also accompany allergies or hay fever. Other symptoms include increased tears, itchy burning eyes, blurred vision, increased sensitivity to light, and a gritty sensation.
Conjunctivitis can be caused by a viral infection that will clear up on its own and produces a clear watery discharge and is very contagious while symptoms are present.
Conjunctivitis can also be caused by a bacterial infection that will require antibiotic treatment and is identified when there is swelling of the eyelids, and a thick yellow discharge is present, Children are safe to return to school or childcare 24 hours after commencing antibiotics.
Because Conjunctivitis is highly contagious and children are playing in very close contact, it is important to encourage strict hygiene practices especially hand washing to minimise the spread of infection.