This is usually infective and caused by a bacterium; it is more common in young people. It can spread rapidly through families or schools without serious consequence other than a few days incapacity. When adults develop acute conjunctivitis, it is worth searching for a possible underlying cause, especially a blocked tear duct if the condition is unilateral. Sometimes an ingrowing lash might be the cause or occasionally a free-floating eyelash lodges in the lacrimal punctum. The important symptoms of acute conjunctivitis are redness, irritation and sticking together of the eyelids in the mornings. Management entails finding the cause and using antibiotic drops if the symptoms are severe enough to warrant this. However, it must be remembered that the inadequate and intermittent use of antibiotic eye drops could simply encourage growth of resistant organisms.
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