Conjunctivitis is a condition that causes redness and inflammation of the thin layer of tissue that covers the white part of the eyes and the inside of the eyelids (the conjunctiva).
The conjunctiva is transparent, but it contains blood vessels that overlay the sclera of the eye. The conjunctiva blood vessels can dilate if inflammation occurs, leading to red, bloodshot eyes. The affected eye may have increased tears or be “stuck shut” in the morning.
Conjunctivitis can be :
- irritant conjunctivitis – When the eye comes into contact with things that can irritate the conjunctiva, such as shampoo or chlorinated water, or a loose eyelash rubbing against the eye.
- Chemical conjunctivitis.
- Neonatal conjunctivitis is often defined separately due to different organisms
- infective conjunctivitis – A bacterial or viral infection .
- An allergic reaction to substances such as pollen, dust mites, perfumes, cosmetics, smoke etc.
- Infections from bacteria or virus.
- When the eye comes into contact with chemicals that can irritate the conjunctiva
- Itchiness and watering of the eyes.
- Sticky coating on the eyelashes.
- Red eye and swelling of conjunctiva.
- The eyelids may become swollen stuck together with gluey material (discharge) after a sleep.
- It may cause blurring of vision due to discharge at the front of the eye, which usually clears with blinking.
- Burning sensation in one or both eyes.
- Excessive tearing.
- Discharge from one or both eyes.
- Increased sensitivity to light.
How Is Conjunctivitis Diagnosed?
Conjunctivitis can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. Testing is also carried out with special emphasis on the conjunctiva and surrounding tissues, which may include:
- Patient history to determine the symptoms, when the symptoms began, and whether any general health or environmental conditions are contributing to the problem.
- Visual acuity measurements to determine whether vision has been affected.
- Evaluation of the conjunctiva and external eye tissue using bright light and magnification.
- Evaluation of the inner structures of the eye to ensure that no other tissues are affected by the condition.
- Supplemental testing, which may include taking cultures or smears of conjunctival tissue. This is mostly carried out in cases of chronic conjunctivitis or when the condition is not responding to treatment.
- Partly by hand-washing.
- Avoid rubbing the eyes with infected hands.
- Vaccination against adenovirus, haemophilus influenza, pneumococcus, and neisseria meningitidisis an effective way to prevent this condition.
- Thorough and frequent washing of hands.
- Avoid eye cosmetics, especially mascara.
- Avoid using someone else’s eye cosmetics or personal eye-care items.
- Adhere to your eye doctor’s instructions on proper contact lens care.
- Do not share your color contact lensesor special effect contacts with friends.
- Wear swim goggles to protect yourself from bacteria and other microorganisms in the water that can cause conjunctivitis when swimming
- Remove your contact lenses before showering, using a hot tub or being in water of any kind, to avoid trapping bacteria between your eyes and the lenses.
Without treatment, most cases of infective conjunctivitis clear on their own (Your tears contain chemicals that fight off germs), often they clear within 2-5 days. If symptoms get worse then see a doctor to check your eye and to see if you need treatment. Treatments include:
- Use of antibiotics.
- Antihistamine can also be prescribed.
- Use of Mast cell inhibitor drops.
- Bathing the eyes cool with clean water, this may be soothing.
- Lubricant eye drops may help to reduce eye discomfort.
Article By eDokita
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- Introduction, Prevention, Treatment, Symptoms and Causes of Conjunctivitis. 2016
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- National Eye Institute. “Facts About Pink Eye”.. November 2015
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