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Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis means inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin and transparent membrane, covering the whites of the eyes, due to various reasons. Viral type of conjunctivitis, caused by the infection of Adenovirus, is the most contagious. There is inflammation of the external membrane of the eyelid, persistent irritation and discharge in the eyes

Causes of Conjunctivitis

  • Allergic reaction to pollens or chemicals such as cleaning detergents
  • Intraocular pressure (IOP) –Eye pressure increase
  • Bacterial infection
  • Viral infection such as Adenovirus, Cytomegalovirus (CMV) etc.
  • Neonatal conjunctivitis (a form of bacterial infection contracted during delivery by infants)
  • Certain disease conditions such as Gonorrhea, Rheumatoid arthritis, Genital herpes and Crohn’s disease lead to conjunctivitis
  • Partially opened tear ducts of eyes

Types of conjunctivitis

The two types infectious conjunctivitis, namely bacterial and viral.

  • Bacterial Pink eye conjunctivitis is caused by Streptococci and Staphylococci strains.
  • Viral conjunctivitis caused by virus
  • Allergic conjunctivitis is due to some forms of chemicals in the day to day use or air borne pollutants.

Symptoms of conjunctivitis

  • Painful and swollen eyes
  • Watery discharge from eyes collected during sleep time
  • Crust formation in the eyes
  • Unbearable itchiness with redness in the eyes
  • Running nose accompanied by eye problems
  • Persistent burning sensation in the eyes
  • Enlargement in the front of the ear due to swelling of lymph gland
  • Sinus congestion

Complications associated with conjunctivitis

  • Hyperlacrimation (excessive tears)
  • Keratitis (corneal inflammation)
  • If self- limited conjunctivitis is repeatedly treated with broad spectrum antibiotics, there are chances of developing resistance to bacterial species
  • Steroid treatments can elicit the activation of herpes simplex infection
  • The chance of developing a cataract due to the hike in the intraocular pressure is more.

Diagnosis of conjunctivitis

A thorough medical examination of the pupil of the eye is done in the presence of proper light by the healthcare provider or specialist (ophthalmologist). He examines for the adequate pressure of the eyes and accuracy of the vision. Sensitivity tests, such as Gram staining, are conducted for detection of advanced cases of conjunctivitis. In some cases Giemsa staining is also done. Some special tests (Immunofluorescent antibody tests) are performed to confirm the presence of antibodies and Chlamydia (sexually transmitted bacterial infection). However, the presence of eosinophils confirms the allergic conjunctivitis.

Treatment of conjunctivitis

It is necessary to identify the allergen that causes the eye problem and as a first step artificial tears or tropical stabilizers may be prescribed. For viral and epidemic keratoconjunctivitis, cool compression over the affected eye will be advised. There are not much special treatments for viral conjunctivitis, only symptomatic oral medicine or eye drops may be needed.

Prevention of Conjunctivitis

  • Personal hygiene
  • Removal of allergens
  • Keep the surroundings clean with disinfectants
  • Seek medical advice immediately after noting an abnormality in the eyes.
  • To combat allergic conjunctivitis, you can seek professional advice for using antihistamines as eye drops.
  • Rubbing of eyes should be minimized so as to prevent further contamination.

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