What is Conjunctivitis?

Conjunctiva is a thin, translucent membrane lining the front part of the eye and inside the eyelids. Inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva is known as conjunctivitis.

Viral conjunctivitis

Have you heard of the term “Pink eye“? Viral conjunctivitis is commonly referred to as “Pink eye” and is the most common cause of infectious conjunctivitis. It occurs more frequently in people who have a weakened immune system, recently suffered a cold cold,  or who have come in contact with another person with viral conjunctivitis. Some of the typical symptoms include:

  • Itchy eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • One eye affected first then second eye follows

It is highly contagious and can be spread through direct contact via contaminated fingers, coughing and sneezing. Due to its high rates of transmission, hand-washing and disinfection  is utmost important. Although, there are no effective treatment, it should clear up within 7-10 days. The aid of artificial eye-drops, antihistamines, or cold compresses may be useful in alleviating some of the symptoms. If you suspect any signs or symptoms of viral conjunctivitis, then come see our optometrist at Eyecare Plus for more information and management options to avoid possible risk of further complications.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis

Bacterial conjunctivitis is the second most common cause of infectious conjunctivitis and is responsible for the majority (50-75%) of cases in children. It can be contracted directly from infected individuals via contaminated fingers or from accumulation of bacteria on our eyelids. The  most common pathogens in adults are staphylococcal species and in children is often caused by H.influenzae. Some primary symptoms include:

  • Red eye
  • Thick, purulent yellow or whitish discharge in the cornea of the eye upon waking
  • Eyelids may be stuck together upon waking
  • May have foreign body sensation in the eye
  • One or both eye affected

Majority of bacterial conjunctivitis cases are self-limiting within 1-2 weeks of presentation. However, it is recommended tovisit the optometrist for appropriate treatment and management, because if left untreated, it can lead to serious damage and vision loss to the eye.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis is the most frequent cause of non-infectious conjunctivitis, affecting 15-40% of the population and is observed more frequently in spring and summer. It is the inflammatory response of the conjunctiva to allergens such as pollen, animal dander, and other environmental antigens.

Most common and consistent symptoms include:

  • Red eyes
  • Itching
  • Sneezing

It is best to avoid the triggering antigen and use artificial tears or saline solution to dilute and remove the allergens from the eyes. Topical decongestants and antihistamines may be indicated

It is important to differentiate between the types of conjunctivitis and rule-out other sight-threatening eye disease that have similar characteristics in order for appropriate testings, treatment and management options. If you have any of the above signs- red or pink eye, which can be a symptom of many different eye problems- some can be serious- schedule an appointment to see our optometrist at one of our Eyecare Plus store.

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