Before jumping to Conjunctivitis, let’s know what conjunctiva is

Conjunctiva is a thin transparent layer of tissue that lines the inside of eyelids and covers the white portion of the eye i.e. sclera which contributes in protecting our eyes by keeping the front surface of the eye lubricated and also helps to prevent the entry of microorganisms into the eye. 

CONJUNCTIVITIS OR PINK EYE

The inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva is commonly termed as conjunctivitis or often referred as pink eye. It happens when the conjunctiva is irritated by an infection or any allergies. Eyes got red and inflamed. When the small blood vessels are inflamed, they are more visible. It can have a real impact in our daily life. You can have conjunctivitis unilateral or bilateral. It is usually a minor eye infection but sometimes it can lead to more serious problems. It rarely affects our vision. Some forms of conjunctivitis are highly contagious and easily spread at school or at home. It is mostly seen in children but teens and adults can also get conjunctivitis.

Causes

Based on cause, conjunctivitis are commonly three types.

  1. Bacterial conjunctivitis 

It is caused by bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumonia, etc. It is highly contagious as it can get transmitted. 

  1. Viral conjunctivitis 

It is caused by viruses associated with common cold and respiratory infection such as measles and flu. It is also highly contagious as airborne viruses can easily be transmitted through sneezing and coughing. 

  1. Allergic conjunctivitis 

It is caused by allergic reactions to irritants such as dirt, dust, smoke,materials used in cosmetics or other products like contact lenses that touch the eye. Similarly, it occurs more commonly among people who already have seasonal allergies. It is not contagious at all.

Sometimes, conjunctivitis can occur from a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD). Gonorrhoea can cause bacterial conjunctivitis and if left untreated, it can lead to vision loss. Chlamydia can cause conjunctivitis in adults. 

Symptoms 

Generally, symptoms depend upon the cause of inflammation but commonly patients experience following symptoms.

  • Gritty sensation 
  • Itching or burning sensation 
  • Excessive tearing 
  • Eye Discharge
  • Increased light sensitivity
  • Redness 
  • Puffy Eyelids – swelling around the eyes

TYPES AND TREATMENT 

BACTERIAL CONJUNCTIVITIS 

Its common ocular problem caused by bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus, streptococcus pneumonia, haemophilus influenzae, moraxella lucanta, etc. As it is highly infectious, it can be caused through physical contact, poor hygiene or using contaminated make up tools or contact lenses that are used without cleaning properly. Sometimes, it can occur with an ear infection. 

Based upon the discharge, it can be differentiated from other types of conjunctivitis as bacterial conjunctivitis will have thick eye discharge or pus. 

Ophthalmia Neonatorum 

It is a severe form of bacterial conjunctivitis that occurs in an infant less than 30 days old. It is preventable disease that usually occurs due to carelessness at the time of birth. It may occur when a child is exposed to chlamydia or gonorrhoea while passing through the birth canal. 

Treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis 

In bacterial conjunctivitis, topical antibiotic eye drops or eye ointment are prescribed. It may help to shorten the length of infection, reduce complications as well as minimize the risk of transmission. Depending upon the severity, treatment will take a duration of one to two weeks. In mild cases, it may get better without any treatment but antibiotics should be required in some conditions like if there is discharge, when conjunctivitis occurs in people whose immune system is compromised and when particular bacteria is suspected. Sometimes oral antibiotics are also required.

VIRAL CONJUNCTIVITIS 

It is commonly caused by the virus associated with the common cold. It is highly contagious. Adenovirus are the types of virus that is mostly responsible for the infection. Some viruses that cause conjunctivitis are herpes simplex virus( HSV), varicella-zoster virus(VZV), Human immunodeficiency virus(HIV) and so on. Occasionally, this type of conjunctivitis associated with infection of cornea( front clear portion of the eyeball).

This type of conjunctivitis presents with watery discharge, increased light sensitivity, redness. To confirm, clinical diagnosis is required. 

Treatment of viral conjunctivitis 

This type of conjunctivitis will not require any antibiotics. If you are having viral conjunctivitis, there is no specific treatments. Your body fights the virus on its own. Using cool wet clean cloth on your eyes will make you feel comfortable. 

ALLERGIC CONJUNCTIVITIS 

This type of conjunctivitis is generally caused by an allergic reaction to irritants like dust, smoke, airborne allergens, etc. Though who has allergies are at higher risk, it is not highly contagious. 

Primary symptom of allergic conjunctivitis is itchy eyes.Other symptoms may include red eyes, puffy eyelids, burning and tearing eyes. 

Treatment of allergic conjunctivitis 

Basically treatment of allergic conjunctivitis starts with determining the exact cause of symptoms and avoiding these if possible. Generally anti allergy eye drops are prescribed and sometimes to minimize the irritation, topical antihistamine medication may be required. 

How can we prevent/ minimize pink eyes from spreading? 

As we know, bacterial and viral forms of conjunctivitis are highly contagious and get transmitted from person to person. Follow the provided points so as to minimize the risk of transmission.

  1. Use a clean towel while wiping your face and eyes. 
  2. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. 
  3. Wash contaminated towels and pillows properly with hot water.
  4. Don’t share towels and pillows.
  5. Avoid touching your eyes, if you are urged to do so, wash your hands right away. 
  6. If you use contact lenses, dispose them for a while until conjunctivitis settles down. You can use glass during this time. 
  7. Don’t share personal items like sunglasses, cosmetics, contact lenses, etc 
  8. Avoid swimming in pools.

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