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Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune
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Dr. D. Y. Patil Institute of Optometry & Visual Sciences
Pimpri, Pune-411 018 (Maharashtra) India.

From Contagion to Clarity: Navigating Through Conjunctivitis

From Contagion to Clarity: Navigating Through Conjunctivitis

Learn about Conjunctivitis: Causes (allergic, bacterial, viral), Symptoms (redness, discharge), Diagnosis, and treatment options. Take preventive measures.

Mohit Baranwal (TY B. Optom)
August, 24 2023
888

With the rapidly increasing cases of conjunctivitis throughout the country, everyone is becoming impatient and anxious. We are here to guide you through conjunctivitis.

What is Conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis is also called "pink eye," as seen in cases where eyes become red and swollen. Conjunctivitis, in simple terms, is the inflammation of the conjunctiva. If you are wondering what conjunctiva is, then here is your answer - conjunctiva is a transparent membrane that lines your eyeballs and eyelids. When the small blood vessels of this transparent membrane become irritated and swollen, they give a red appearance to your eyes.

Conjunctivitis

What Causes Conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis can be infectious or allergic.

  • Allergic conjunctivitis commonly occurs in individuals with seasonal allergies; they get triggered when they come in contact with allergic substances.

Infectious conjunctivitis can be due to bacteria or viruses.

  • Bacterial Conjunctivitis – This infection is mostly caused by bacteria named staphylococcal or streptococcal. It is usually spread due to poor hygiene or the use of contaminated eye makeup or face lotions. Bacterial conjunctivitis often associated with mucus discharge.
  • Viral Conjunctivitis – most commonly caused by contagious viruses spread through sneezing or physical contact.

What Are the Symptoms?

As discussed above, symptoms of conjunctivitis can vary according to the cause. Allergic conjunctivitis symptoms include watery clear discharge, redness, and itching (which can range from mild to severe). Bacterial infection appears red and is associated with yellowish-green discharge. Conjunctivitis caused by the virus is often followed by pain and watery discharge.

Some symptoms like photophobia (sensitivity to light), redness, and swollen conjunctiva are common in all types of conjunctivitis.

How is Conjunctivitis Diagnosed?

Not all red, irritated, or swollen eyes are pink eye or conjunctivitis. Ocular conditions like blepharitis, seasonal allergies, sty, iritis, etc., share some common groups of symptoms. These conditions are not contagious.

A comprehensive eye examination is needed to differentially diagnose conjunctivitis. This involves evaluating the patient's symptom history, conjunctiva, and external eye examination using bright light and magnification.

Supplemental testing includes cultures or smears of conjunctival tissue to detect causative microorganisms.

What's the Treatment for Conjunctivitis?

The treatment of conjunctivitis highly depends on the cause.

For viral conjunctivitis, antiviral drops, ointment, or pills can be given for 4-7 days.

For bacterial conjunctivitis, ointment to relieve inflammation is given, which should be applied under the eyelid 3 to 4 times a day. Along with it, antibacterial eye drops are also given.

For allergic conjunctivitis, it gets resolved once you treat the allergies and avoid allergens. Antihistamines (either oral or drops) can provide relief in the meantime.

A warm compress, i.e., putting a washcloth soaked in warm water on your eyes, can ease the pain and help break up the crust formed on the eyelids.

Artificial tears or eye lubricants can help ease itching and burning.

Preventive Measures Need to Be Taken

Wash your hands often with soap or hand wash.

Keep your eyes clean with fresh cotton or paper tissue. Discard the cotton or paper tissue afterwards.

Wash and change your pillowcase, as infection can stick to it and become a cause.

Don't wear contact lenses for the time being, and especially don't share your lenses with other people.

Use dark goggles to relieve sensitivity to light.

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