April 14, 2024

What Do I Need to Know About Conjunctivitis?

What Do I Need to Know About Conjunctivitis – When people say the phrase “I am in the pink of health”, it usually refers to something good because it means that they are in good health. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for our eyes. When the words “pink” and “eye” are in the same sentence, it does not mean something good.

What is Pink Eye?

Pink eye, also referred to as conjunctivitis, is a common eye condition that can affect both children and adults whereby the transparent membrane that lines the eyeball, otherwise known as the conjunctiva, is inflammed [1].

Causes and Symptoms of Pink Eye

Pink eye or conjunctivitis can be caused by different factors, which will then influence the type of conjunctivitis that one has and the symptoms that they suffer from.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis

Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by unhygienic habits like touching your eyes with dirty hands or using cosmetics that have been contaminated on your face. Additionally, using other people’s makeup or contact lenses that have not been properly cleaned can also cause bacterial conjunctivitis.

While people suffering from bacterial conjunctivitis do not face a lot of pain, there is usually a yellow or green discharge that will result in redness and swelling of their eyes. This discharge will also form a crusty appearance at their eyelashes [3].

Viral Conjunctivitis

This form of conjunctivitis is usually caused by contagious viruses that are linked with the common cold. People with viral conjunctivitis also have redness on the surface of the eye and they encounter a pain that is like a gritty sensation of something in their eyes [3].

Allergic Conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis arises in response to the trigger of an allergen. Those suffering from this kind of conjunctivitis produce a clear, watery discharge in their eyes which will become red as well. Their eyes may become itchy and they may experience other symptoms of allergies as well, such as sneezing or a scratchy throat [4].

Chemical Conjunctivitis

Chemical conjunctivitis is caused by environmental irritants like dirt, smoke or chlorine from swimming pools. This type of conjunctivitis usually produces watery eyes and a mucus- like discharge [2].

Parents, you may be very worried about your children’s eye health at the moment. Fret not, conjunctivitis will not permanently affect their vision as long as it is treated quickly.

How can Conjunctivitis be treated?

Firstly, for bacterial conjunctivitis, antibiotic eye drops are being used to treat this type of conjunctivitis and the infection will normally be healed in a few days. Sometimes, for children, an antibiotic eye ointment may be prescribed by the eye care professional [1].

Secondly, in the case of viral conjunctivitis, antibiotic eye drops and ointment cannot be used. Similar to a common cold, the person with viral conjunctivitis has to wait it out until the virus has gone off on its own, which might take 2 to 3 weeks [3]. The eye care professional can however prescribe non medicated eye drops such as lubricants or artificial tears that will help you or your little one tide through the discomfort caused by viral conjunctivitis.

Lastly, the first step towards treating allergic conjunctivitis is to remove the irritant that triggered the condition. After that, use a cold compressor to relieve the discomfort in mild cases of allergic conjunctivitis. In more serious cases, anti-inflammatory or anti-histamine medications may be prescribed.

Preventing The Spread of Conjunctivitis

Aside from treating pink eye, it is also essential to control the spread of this infection by practising good hygiene. Here are some tips that can help:

Washing Your Hands Thoroughly

As poor hygiene can cause conjunctivitis, it is important that you wash your hands thoroughly with soap frequently. Also, do not touch your eyes with your hands or rub excessively.

Change Your Towel, Pillowcase and Bed Sheets Often

You should change your towel, pillowcase and bed sheets often to make sure that they stay clean and bacteria-free. It is also advised that you do not share them with other people.

Maintain Cleanliness of Cosmetics

If you wear cosmetics, it is best to discard those that have expired or kept for too long. Also, try not to use someone else’s cosmetics or personal eye care items.

Wear Contact Lenses Properly

Not taking care of your contact lenses in a hygienic manner can cause bacteria to form and might lead to bacterial conjunctivitis. Therefore, it is important to practice correct instructions for proper contact lens care.

Avoid Close Contact with Others

If you have been infected, they should refrain from having close contact with other people since conjunctivitis is a highly contagious infection; especially viral conjunctivitis.

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