Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of conjunctivitis

Eye diseases can occur in any form due to multiple factors like dry eye, viral or bacterial infections and many more. The most dangerous form of eye disease till date is conjunctivitis that can damage the eye severely. It is the most contagious form of eye infection and can spread even through minimum interactions. A recent survey by the National Institute of Health (NIH) has revealed that conjunctivitis in acute form infects nearly 6 million people in the world annually. About 36% of these conjunctivitis cases are caused due to viral infections. A clear understanding of the causes, symptoms, and consequences of conjunctivitis is, therefore, necessary to prevent unnecessary complications.

What is conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis childConjunctivitis is an acute inflammation of the “conjunctiva” (a thin membrane covering the white part of the eyeball and the inner lining of the eye-lids) due to infections or allergies.

Conjunctivitis is also called “pink-eye” disease and is accompanied by swollen, reddish eyes releasing a sticky, yellowish fluid.

Conjunctivitis can occur in one eye or both eyes and is usually very contagious. Conjunctivitis is caused mainly due to infection by –

  • Bacteria of Streptococcus or Haemophilus species
  • Viruses like Adenovirus or Herpes virus
  • Intracellular parasites such as the Chlamydia species
  • Allergens generated in particular seasons (Spring)
  • Toxic elements or chemicals present in the environment
  • Past infections like eczema, asthma, fever or edema
  • Wearing unclean contact lens for a long time

Attack due to any of the above causative agents causes enlargement of the conjunctival vessels, that further leads to hyperemia (excess blood in the vessels) and edema (generation of watery discharge) of the conjunctiva. These conditions collectively predispose the eyes to conjunctivitis.

Transmission mediums of conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is usually very contagious and can transmit from one person to another through the following routes:

  • Sharing of clothes, towels, bed-sheets, cosmetics and cleaning liquids
  • Using improper eye medications
  • Going to infected swimming pools
  • Sharing of goggles
  • Infrequent cleaning of hands and eyes

Signs and symptoms

ConjunctivitisConjunctivitis manifests itself through several prominent symptoms. These should be quickly identified and appropriate measure should be adopted to prevent the spread of the disease. The major signs and symptoms are as follows-

  • Reddish and swollen eyes with constant itching
  • Secretion of white or yellowish discharge
  • Persistent pain and burning sensation in the eyes
  • Increased sensitivity to bright light (photophobia)
  • Grainy sensation in the eyes (similar to one caused due to the presence of sand grains in the eyes)
  • Blurred vision (due to the formation of a translucent membrane)
  • Eyelashes may stick together due to excessive discharge of pus and other fluids.
  • Dry sensation in the eye
  • Heavy and crusty feeling in the eyelids
  • Occasional formation of lumps on the outer or inner wall of eyelids
  • Increased sensitivity to touch
  • Bleeding in rare cases
  • Fever, muscle pain, body aches, nasal discharge and other flu-like symptoms may occur in allergic conjunctivitis

Types of conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is a disease-causing potential threat to the eye and adjacent organs. It can be classified into different types based on the source of infection. The main categories are as follows-

Viral Conjunctivitis: It is caused by the flu virus or the virus causing fever and the common cold. Hence fever, infection of pharynx and larynx and associated symptoms are observed. Viral conjunctivitis has two subtypes-

  • Adenoviral Conjunctivitis: It is associated with mild fever and pharyngeal infections. Keratitis occurs causing crusty feeling in eyelids. Multiple pseudo-membranes may form on the eyes. Lid edema and occasional hemorrhage can occur.
  • Herpetic Conjunctivitis: It is caused by the Herpes zoster virus. Lid edema and hyperemia occurs and is often accompanied by ulcer formation (in rare cases).

Bacterial Conjunctivitis: It attacks the ocular structures and damages the epithelial tissues. Edema occurs along with purulent discharge. Post-infection trauma persists even after recovery. These are of three types-

  • Acute Bacterial Conjunctivitis: It is mainly caused by Staphylococcus species and is characterized by inflammation of the periorbital region. It lasts for less than 3 weeks.
  • Hyperacute Bacterial Conjunctivitis: It is caused due to infections by Neisseria gonorrhoeae that attacks the corneal epithelium. It usually spreads from infections at genital organs and is more frequent in newborns.
  • Chronic Conjunctivitis: Mild Hyperaemia occurs along with a gritty feeling in the eyes and crusty eyelids in the morning. It lasts for more than 4 weeks.

Allergic Conjunctivitis: It occurs due to the active generation of immunoglobulin protein (IgE) on being triggered by seasonal allergens like pollen grains or danders. It causes degranulation of mast cells which releases cytokines that trigger conjunctivitis. This is of two types-

  • Seasonal conjunctivitis
  • Vernal conjunctivitis (thickening of limbal conjunctiva and formation of nodules occur)

Chlamydial Conjunctivitis: It is caused by intracellular parasites that spread via sexually transmitted diseases. It is accompanied by the formation of follicles in the lower palpebral conjunctiva and low-grade edema.

Neonatal Conjunctivitis: It occurs during the first month of a child’s birth and is manifested as diffused hyperemia.

Traumatic Conjunctivitis: It occurs due to abrasion of the epithelial tissue due to external injuries.

Secondary Conjunctivitis: It is associated with other ocular disorders like Blepharitis, Reiter’s syndrome, and Erythema.

Contact lens conjunctivitis: It is associated with solution induced allergy, Gel Permeation Chromatography (GPC) and hypoxia (deficient oxygen supply) in tissues.

Mechanical Conjunctivitis: It is caused by the intrusion of external agents such as toxic particles into the eyes.

Treatment and prevention

Treatment 

  • Conjunctivitis dropsGenerally, conjunctivitis is not treated with antibiotics, as these medications do not help in reducing the symptoms of the condition.
  • Hot or cold compression is generally advised to relieve itching and irritation in the eyes.
  • Doctors will recommend the patient to stop using their contact lenses and preferably throw them away if they are disposable. In cases of hard lenses, they will need to be disinfected overnight and only then can be used.
  • Antiviral medications will be prescribed to those who have been diagnosed with conjunctivitis.
  • Eye drops with anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory properties will be prescribed to those who have been diagnosing with allergic conjunctivitis.
  • Allergic irritants will need to be avoided to ensure that the infection runs its course and does not worsen.

Prevention

  • Maintain proper hygiene; make sure to wash your hands after using the washroom.
  • Do not scratch or rub your eyes.
  • Wash your eyes frequently.
  • Do not share your pillow.
  • Do not share personal items.
  • Do not share eye cosmetics.
  • Wash your clothes, bedspread, and towel frequently.

TL;DR?

Facts

  • Conjunctivitis is also known as ‘pink eye’ and ‘madras eye.’
  • There are 4 main types of conjunctivitis and all are contagious.

Facts

  • Though conjunctivitis is common among children, it can happen to anyone.
  • Conjunctivitis tends to go away on its own within 2 weeks.

Facts

  • Children under the age of 5 years are more susceptible to conjunctivitis.
  • Certain bacteria that can cause conjunctivitis are present in the human body such as staph.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Use a cold compression, in cases of allergic conjunctivitis.
  • Use a hot compression, in case of infections.
  • Wash all clothes, towels etc. of the affected person separately, to avoid the infection from spreading.
Don'ts
  • Cover the affected eye, since warmth can make the symptoms worse.
  • Share personal belongings, as this can spread the condition.
  • Scratch or rub the eye, doing so can aggravate the symptoms.

 

 

 

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How can berberine supplements help you live longer and healthier? Berberine is a turmeric look-alike herbal extract that is credited with numerous health benefits ranging from diabetes cure…
How accurate is the hair follicle drug test? Hair follicle drug test is one of the best ways to identify drug use in professional circles. But…
Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine? The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
CT-scan-machine
CT – Computed Tomography Scan CT scan or computed tomography scan is an diagnostic imaging technique where cross-sectional images of body are obtained…
blood elements analysis
Blood Element Analysis Test A blood element analysis is a blood test performed to measure the level of toxic elements such as…
fructosamine test
Fructosamine Test A fructosamine test measures blood sugar glucose content. Fructosamine level can indicate blood sugar level in past 2-3…
antihepatitis core antigent
Anti-Hepatitis B Core Antigen (AHBc) Total Anti-hepatitis B core antigen (AHBC ) is a blood examination and the only serological marker of infectious blood…
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
complement c4 test
Anemia Profile Anemia Profile test (Basic) is a blood screening test that measures the levels of important components of the…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
Horny Goat Weed: Can it improve libido in human beings too? This plant got its name as Horny Goat Weed when one of the goats feeding on the plant…
Rick Simpson’s Oil: The truths and controversies of this cannabis product Rick Simpson's Oil is an extract from the much-controversial plant, Cannabis. What is the actual truth behind the…
Erythritol: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another marketing ploy? Erythritol is a popular choice of a healthy alternative sweetening agent in foods. But how healthy can a…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…
sodium blood test
Blood Sodium Test A blood sodium test measures the amount of sodium (an important electrolyte) in your body. It is also…
pilonidal sinus
Pilonidal sinus Pilonidal sinus is more common in young men than women. Learn about treatment options, surgical management, risks, and…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…