Conjunctivitis – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

conjunctivitisThe inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin clear layer of tissue that lies over the white part of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid is known as conjunctivitis. It is also known as pink eyes.

Causes of Conjunctivitis

The following causes pink eyes:

  • Allergies due to dust or pollen and the allergy due to wearing lens
  • Shampoos, dirt, smoke and other irritants
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses

If  pink eyes is due to bacteria or viruses, then it may spread from one person to another. It is not a serious risk if diagnosed and treated early.  But it can result in vision loss if this condition occurs in newborn infants and needs medical care immediately.

Symptoms of Conjunctivitis

Based on the cause of inflammation, the symptoms vary. They may include the following:

  • Increase in sensitivity to light
  • Itchy eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Redness in the white part of the eye and sometimes even the inner eyelid
  • Burning sensation in eyes
  • Colored discharge from the eyes
  • Teary eyes

Consult a doctor if you have any of the above symptoms. The eye doctor will examine your eyes and if required a cotton swab is used to take a sample of fluid from the eyes and tested in lab. The exact cause of inflammation can then be identified and necessary treatment given.

Treatment for Conjunctivitis

Treatment for this condition again is based on the cause.

  • Allergies: If your pink eyes is due to allergy, then consult an eye doctor. Once the allergen is removed and the allergy treated, the allergy related pink eyes will improve.
  • Bacteria: Antibiotics in the form of eye drops, tablets or ointments can cure pink eyes caused by bacteria. Your doctor may recommend taking pills for several days and applying the eye drops or ointments for 5 to 7 days and  4 to 5 times a day. Even if the infection has improved, keep taking the pills as instructed by your doctor.
  • Irritants: If an irritant is the cause of your pink eye, then wash off the substance with water for five minutes. Within 4 to 5 hours your eye condition will begin to improve. If a chemical like bleach is the cause of your pink eye, immediately wash your eyes with lots of water and consult a doctor as soon as possible.
  • Viruses: Pink eyes often occur due to viruses that cause common cold. In such cases, like the cold the pink eyes will also run its course for 4 to 7 days. This kind of conjunctivitis spreads to others easily. Hence avoid contact with others. Also wash your hands before having food with your hands. The contacts and makeup worn when having pink eye has to thrown away and not reused. Scarring of the cornea may occur in some viral infection and this may result in blurred vision, its better to consult your doctor immediately.

Relief for the symptoms of Conjunctivitis

Do the following to get relief from pink eye symptoms:

  • Avoid using makeup
  • Avoid contact with irritating substances and protect your eyes from dirt
  • Remove your contact lenses
  • Get relief from itching and burning sensation caused by pink eye with over the counter eye drops. Avoid using the same bottle of eye drops in the uninfected eye.

Prevent spreading of Conjunctivitis

  • Avoid wearing makeup and contact lenses.
  • Do not touch or rub the infected eye
  • Wash your eyes several times a day with clean water and wipe with a fresh tissue. Discard the tissue after wiping and wash your hands too.
  • Make sure your bed linens, pillow covers and towels are washed properly.
  • Avoid sharing of towels and glasses with others.
  • Do not use the eye drops used in the infected eye in the uninfected eye.

Complications of Conjunctivitis

Usually pink eye clears on its own or by the use of antibiotics. But certain forms can be serious and vision loss due to cornea scarring may occur. Pink eye caused by the viruses like gonorrhea, chlamydia, or certain strains of the adeno virus is a cause for concern.

Avoiding Conjunctivitis

Pink eye caused by viral infection is contagious. Maintaining a proper hygiene helps to reduce the transmission. Since the virus can enter the nose, mouth and eyes, avoid touching your face more often. Avoid sharing common articles like towels, soaps, makeup and others with person suffering from pink eye. Also wash your hands more often. Avoid coming in contact with allergens or irritants which may cause pink eye.

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