Conjunctivitis

What is conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis, commonly known as "pink eye" is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, a thin, transparent layer covering the surface of the inner eyelid and the front of the eye. 

There are three main categories of conjunctivitis: bacterial, viral, and allergic


What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis?

General common signs and symptoms of conjunctivitis include red, watery eyes, inflamed inner eyelids, blurred vision, or a sandy and scratchy feeling in the eyes. Younger kids may keep rubbing their eyes to indicate that something is wrong. 

Besides the symptoms above, bacterial conjunctivitis can present with considerable amounts of pus or crusting along the lid margins. The lids may be stuck together in the morning due to nighttime mucous production.  This type of conjunctivitis can be acute or chronic. 

Viral conjunctivitis has red, watering eyes. It can be be concurrent with other viral symptoms of the body, like a sore throat and running nose.

Someone with allergic conjunctivitis has very red, itchy, and watering eyes, with sometimes a ropy or stringy discharge. 

What causes conjunctivitis?
The infectious form is caused by a virus or bacteria. 
It is important to both prevent contracting and spreading conjunctivitis.

  • Keep your hands away from your eyes. 

  • Thoroughly wash hands before and after applying contact lenses and/or eye medications. 

  • Do not share towels, washcloths, pillowcases, cosmetics, or eyedrops with anyone, including family members.

Small children, who may forget these precautions, should be kept away from school, camp, and the swimming pool should they be diagnosed with conjunctivitis until the condition is cured.

Your body's allergies to pollen, cosmetics, animals or fabrics often bring on allergic conjunctivitis. Irritants like air pollution, noxious fumes and chlorine in swimming pools may also produce the allergic form.


Who develops conjunctivitis?

t affects people of all ages.

How is conjunctivitis diagnosed?

Certain forms of conjunctivitis can develop into a serious condition that may harm your vision. Therefore, it is important to have conjunctivitis diagnosed and treated quickly.

 

Many eye diseases produce a red eye that is not conjunctivitis. it important to have a medical exaination by an eye specialist to determine what is exactly occurring in the eyes and have it treated immediately. This is especially true it there is pain, blurred vision, or light sensitivity, which are symptoms of something more serious than just conjunctivitis.

How is conjunctivitis treated?
Bacterial conjunctivitis is usually treated with antibiotic eye drops and/or ointment. Be sure to use the medication in both eyes. If other family members develop conjunctivitis, please see your optometrist before using any drops that were not specifically prescribed for them. 

 

Viral conjunctivitis cannot be treated with antibiotics and must be fought off by your body's immune system. On occasions antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent secondary bacterial infections from developing. Usually the viral conjunctivitis will go away on its own in 1-2 weeks.

 

Both bacterial and viral conjunctivitis can be contagious, so contact with the patient's tears through used tissues and towels should be avoided. Handwashing after contact with the patient helps to prevent spread of the infection. Clean all towels, washcloths, pillowcases, and bedding. Do not swim in public pools until the condition has resolved. Throw away makeup, contact lenses, and contact lens cases that may be contaminated. Do not put in a new pair of contact lenses until your optometrist says that the infection has cleared.  

The ideal treatment for allergic conjunctivitis is to remove the cause of the allergy or irritation. For instance, avoid contact with any animal if it causes an allergic reaction. Wear swimming goggles if chlorinated water irritates your eyes. In cases where these measures do not work, prescription and over-the-counter eye drops are available to help relieve the discomfort. These can be prescribed or recommended by our optometrists. 

What is the prognosis for conjunctivitis? 

If all instructions are followed properly, there is generally no problems after the conjunctivitis has been cleared.