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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Avocado: 15 reasons why this fruit should be a staple in your diet Did you know that the word avocado literally means "testicles". Don't get grossed out as this power-packed fruit…
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.…
EEG
Electroencephalogram – EEG EEG or electroencephalogram is a diagnostic tool used to access the functioning of neurons and brain activity to…
LFT-test
Liver Function Test – LFT LFT or Liver Function Test is a blood test used to determine the levels of hepatic enzymes which…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
free psa test
Free PSA Test The free PSA test is used to detect the level or percentage of free PSA in the body…
HSV-1_IGG
Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody & stays in the blood…
Isagenix diet weight loss
How are BMI and BMR different and what do these numbers mean? BMI and BMR are two important metrics that provide a clear picture of your body's metabolism and also…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
Cottage cheese: What can you find in this healthy chunk of fresh milk cheese? Love cheese but scared of putting on extra pounds? With cottage cheese, you can get the best of…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
Sciatica pain relief: Get rid of the pain with these easy daily tips Researchers have claimed that not only heat but icing the area too helps relieve sciatica pain. Find out…
Inversion Therapy: The anti-gravity way of healing chronic back pain Inversion therapy involves suspending a person upside dow using different types of equipment. This works by taking the…
sodium chloride
Halotherapy: How inhaling salt can work wonders for your body Halotherapy is quickly gaining popularity amongst those with respiratory diseases. It has shown promise in its treatment.
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
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…
Vitamin-D-blood-test
25-Hydroxy Vitamin D test 25-hydroxy Vitamin D test is a blood test used to measure the level of vitamin D in the…
CEA_test
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test CEA or carcinoembryonic test detects the presence of CEA antigen in your blood mainly & determines the effectiveness…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
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…
piles fissure fistula
Allopathy vs homeopathy vs ayurveda treatment for piles, fissures, and fistula Read to know the best form of treatment among allopathy, homeopathy,or ayurveda for piles, fissures, and fistula
Tight phimosis ring
Phimosis Read to know everything about phimosis, types, symptoms, treatment, risks and prognosis for patients with this condition.
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…