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Conjunctivitis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is a thin membrane that cover the inner surface of the eyelids and part of front surface of the eyes. [1] .

Conjunctivitis cases are being reported in Kolkata, West Bengal due to the extreme summer heat and dust. Cases of highly contagious viral conjunctivitis, allergic conjunctivitis, and seasonal allergic conjunctivitis are on the rise.

What Causes Conjunctivitis

  • Bacteria [2]
  • Virus
  • Reaction to eye drops
  • Fungi and parasites
  • Allergic reaction to pollen, dust, or smoke [3]
  • Chemical irritants caused by shampoos or chlorine found in swimming pools

Conjunctivitis Causes In Newborns [4]

Conjunctivitis is common among newborn babies and it occurs due to irritation, infection, or a blocked tear duct. If it is bacterial conjunctivitis due to Chlamydia, the symptoms appear 5 to 12 days after delivery and if it's due to gonorrhoea, the symptoms show up after 2 to 4 days.

If conjunctivitis occurs due to an eyedrop reaction given at birth, the symptoms appear after 24 to 36 hours.

Symptoms Of Conjunctivitis

  • Redness in one or both eyes
  • Tears coming out from the eyes
  • Itchiness in one or both eyes
  • Gritty feeling in your eyes
  • A watery discharge in your eyes during the night

Types Of Conjunctivitis

1. Allergic conjunctivitis - It occurs when an allergen comes in contact with the eyes, like pollen, smoke, dust mites, etc.

2. Infective conjunctivitis - It occurs due to a bacteria or virus leading to infection in the eyes.

3. Irritant conjunctivitis - If chemicals or a foreign object irritates the eyes, it causes redness and irritation in the eyes.

Risk Factors Of Conjunctivitis [5]

  • Your eyes are exposed to something to which you have an allergy
  • Using contact lenses for a long time
  • Exposing your eyes to someone infected with viral or bacterial conjunctivitis

Complications Of Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis can cause inflammation in the cornea that can affect vision in both children and adults. If you are having blurred vision or feeling something is stuck in the eye, consult a doctor.

Diagnosis Of Conjunctivitis

The doctor will first look at the symptoms and ask some questions. If your symptoms are severe, the doctor will take a sample of the liquid that drains from your eye for tests. Treatment is based on the type of bacteria causing it.

Treatment Of Conjunctivitis

  • Bacterial conjunctivitis - If it is bacterial conjunctivitis, antibiotics are prescribed. Adults are given eyedrops and children are given ointments. With the use of antibiotics, the symptoms disappear within a few days.
  • Viral conjunctivitis - There is no treatment available and usually the symptoms go away on its own in 7 to 10 days. If viral conjunctivitis is caused by the herpes simplex virus, antiviral medications are prescribed.
  • Allergic conjunctivitis - The doctor may give you antihistamine or anti-inflammatory eyedrops that will control allergic reactions and inflammation. Over-the-counter antihistamine medicines including loratadine and diphenhydramine can also help your allergic symptoms.

How To Prevent Conjunctivitis

  • Keep your eyes clean.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Keep your eyeglasses clean.
  • Don't touch or rub your eyes.
  • Change your pillowcase often.
  • Don't wear eye make-up or contact lenses of other known people.
  • Use goggles in a swimming pool.
View Article References
  1. [1] Azari, A. A., & Barney, N. P. (2013). Conjunctivitis: a systematic review of diagnosis and treatment.JAMA,310(16), 1721–1729.
  2. [2] Epling J. (2012). Bacterial conjunctivitis.BMJ clinical evidence,2012, 0704.
  3. [3] Rathi, V. M., & Murthy, S. I. (2017). Allergic conjunctivitis.Community eye health,30(99), S7–S10.
  4. [4] Wadhwani, M., D'souza, P., Jain, R., Dutta, R., Saili, A., & Singh, A. (2011). Conjunctivitis in the newborn-a comparative study.Indian Journal of Pathology and Microbiology,54(2), 254.
  5. [5] Doğan, Ü., & Ağca, S. (2018). Investigation of possible risk factors in the development of seasonal allergic conjunctivitis.International journal of ophthalmology,11(9), 1508–1513.
Story first published: Friday, June 7, 2019, 18:30 [IST]
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