Are you feeling like sand has got stuck in your eyes? Finding it difficult to stare at the computer screen for long? Watch out, you may be suffering from Conjunctivitis. Read on to know about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of Conjunctivitis.
What Is Conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis is a condition that is characterized by an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin filmy membrane that forms a lining around the front of the eye.
The disease is known as “Pink Eye”, “Sore Eyes” or “Bloodshot Eyes” in the US. It is one of the most common non-traumatic eye complaints around the world.
Conjunctivitis is classified into eight types. These are :
This variation of the disease is usually associated with other conditions like Allergic Dermatitis and Hay Fever. The symptoms begin to appear in early spring. Allergic Conjunctivitis generally gives rise to white, watery discharge from the eyes. It is not an infective disease but may occur in multiple members of the same family.
Like Allergic Conjunctivitis this disease may be acute or chronic. Bacterial conjunctivitis gives rise to yellow, greenish yellow or whitish yellow discharge from the eyes. The discharge accumulates in the eyes in the mornings. It is an infective condition and is usually associated with other disorders like Seborrheic Dermatitis, Purulent skin infections, upper respiratory infection, Rosacea and exposure of eyes to foreign bodies.
As the name suggests, this variation of Conjunctivitis is caused by virus infection. Adenovirus and Herpes Simplex Viruses are the common cause of Conjunctivitis. Acute cases of Conjunctivitis are frequently a result of infection by Coxsackievirus A24 and Enterovirus 70. The condition is highly infectious and results in watery discharge from the eyes. It is associated with fever, Upper Respiratory Infection and skin eruptions.
This disorder results from exposure of eyes to strong chemicals as found in soaps, hair dyes and shampoos. It also arises from exposure to acids, toxins, irritants and caustic alkalis like Sodium Hydroxide.
This condition is sub-acute and causes yellowish-white or white pus discharge from the eyes. This infective disorder results from infection by Chlamydia bacteria caused due to sexual contact with multiple partners, venereal diseases and Urinary Tract conditions.
It is a type of Bacterial Conjunctivitis contracted by newborns during delivery. It happens when the eyes of the infant are contaminated while passing through the birth canal of a mother infected with either Chlamydia trachomatis or Neisseria Gonorrhoeae. This is a very serious kind of Conjunctivitis. Neonatal Conjunctivitis untreated may lead to blindness.
This is a chronic, non-infectious disorder and gives rise to variable symptoms. It is caused by a parasitic infection and is associated with other diseases like Trichinosis, Leishmaniasis and Pediculosis.
This chronic disorder is caused by fungal infection and is associated with HIV and Debilitation. Medical therapies such as Immunosuppressive Therapy and Chemotherapy may also cause this condition. It may also result from trauma to the eye from non-organic matter like leaves or sticks. In people with normal immunity, this is a non-infective condition.
What Are Symptoms Of Conjunctivitis?
Some of the main Conjunctivitis symptoms are :
In sufferers of Conjunctivitis eye redness is the first symptom. The eyes lose their whiteness and turn red. There is also a mild pain in the eyeballs.
In Conjunctivitis eye pain is the most common problem. Patients find it difficult to keep eyes open for long and suffer from acute pain in the eyes, especially while looking downwards. Redness and pain are two of the Conjunctivitis early symptoms.
Sufferers of this disease have their vision blurred from time to time. In Conjunctivitis blurry vision is accompanied with Photophobia or sensitivity to light. Patients find it painful to stare at bright light for a long time.
Discharge from Eye
For patients of conjunctivitis blurred vision is often a fluctuating one and results from a pus discharge and secretion of tears from the eyes. A yellow, yellowish-white or brownish-yellow discharge from the eyes may occur and blur the vision. In Conjunctivitis yellow discharge is a sign of pus accumulation resulting from exposure to toxins.
Conjunctivitis sufferers also feel as if they have sand or other similar particles in their eyes. This makes clear vision further difficult.
There is also a pronounced itchiness in the eyes of Conjunctivitis sufferers. Itchy sensation is one of the major Conjunctivitis early signs.
In most cases, crusts develop very quickly on the surface of the eyes of Conjunctivitis patients.
What Causes Conjunctivitis?
Know about some of the main Conjunctivitis causes.
Conjunctivitis is commonly caused by an infection resulting from attack on the physical system by microbes such as bacteria, virus, fungus and parasites.
Conjunctivitis may also result from allergic reactions caused by over exposure to pollutants, smoke and sunlight. Allergy causes an inflammation of the small blood capillaries giving a red or pink color to the white of the eyes.
Exposure to strong chemicals may also cause inflammation of the Conjunctiva of the eyes thus giving rise to this disorder. Harsh cosmetic products can cause irritation of the eyes and result in inflammation.
One can also get conjunctivitis due to contact lenses. Dirty contacts can give rise to serious eye infection and cause inflammation of the Conjunctiva.
Conjunctivitis is generally diagnosed with the aid of a physical examination of the eyes. In some cases, swab of Conjunctiva are analyzed in the lab to check for bacteria. This is done in cases where the doctor suspects a bacterial infection to be the cause. In case of a viral epidemic, viral cultures may be done to find out if a virus is the cause of Conjunctivitis.
Conjunctivitis Differential Diagnosis
The differential diagnosis for acute Conjunctivitis involves distinguishing the condition from other diseases that give rise to similar symptoms like :
- Corneal ulcer or abrasion
- Foreign body exposure
- Herpes zoster
- Herpes zoster ophthalmicus
What Is The Treatment For Conjunctivitis?
Around 65% cases of Conjunctivitis resolve in a few days without treatment. However, Conjunctivitis medical treatment becomes necessary in cases where the disease persists for a long time and patients complain of extreme discomfort and pain.
Conjunctivitis cure depends on the cause of the condition. Allergic Conjunctivitis is generally treated with anti-allergy drugs, artificial tears, cold compresses, antihistamines, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and topical application of steroid based eye drops. Bacterial Conjunctivitis is cured with the aid of eye drops, eye ointments and warm cloth compress. Viral Conjunctivitis is treated with cold compresses and artificial tears. Chemical Conjunctivitis remedy involves irrigation of eyes with Ringer’s Lactate solution and saline solution. Neonatal Conjunctivitis is cured with erythromycin or tetracycline ointment, Bacitracin eye ointment, silver nitrate solution, Penicillin drops and Ceftriaxone injections.
With effective treatment and care, the outcome of the disease is generally found to be quite good. However, excellent care and lifestyle modifications should be made to prevent Conjunctivitis recurrence.
How Long Does Conjunctivitis Last?
Conjunctivitis usually goes away in a few days with proper treatment. Viral Conjunctivitis resolves between a week to a month. Conjunctivitis duration is generally longer when the disease affects one eye after another.
Conjunctivitis can be prevented by practicing good hygiene and with a few lifestyle modifications.
Avoid Sharing Objects
Not sharing handkerchiefs, washcloths and towels can help you avoid contracting this disease.
Use Contacts Properly
Always wash and clean contact lenses properly before using them. Wearing unclean contacts can result in eye infection and give rise to inflammation in the conjunctiva. It is recommended that you refrain from sharing eye lenses with others to avoid getting Conjunctivitis from contacts.
Replace Eye Cosmetics
Old and expired cosmetics can irritate the eyes and result in Conjunctivitis inflammation. Replace your eye cosmetic products regularly and never share them with others.
Wash Hands Often
Touching or scratching eyes with unclean hands can cause serious infection of the eyes. This is exactly why you need to wash your hands from time to time.
Is Conjunctivitis Contagious?
Conjunctivitis, as aforesaid, is often caused by a microbial infection and is hence contagious. Bacterial and Viral Conjunctivitis are extremely contagious. Viral Conjunctivitis can spread by touching the pus or watery discharge from the eye. If the affected person suffers from cold at the same time, infection can spread by water droplets released into the air due to coughing or sneezing. Bacterial Conjunctivitis can spread by touching of pus discharge from the eye. Allergic Conjunctivitis is not contagious.
Conjunctivitis Contagious Period
Conjunctivitis is contagious until the redness and discharge from the eyes resolve completely. This may last for several days in the absence of treatment or about 24 hours after starting medical cure.
Conjunctivitis may give rise to a number of complications. Bacterial Conjunctivitis can cause Corneal Ulcer and KeratoConjunctivitis. It may result in severe infection of the cornea. In very severe instances, it can lead to Cellulitis, Meningitis, ear infections, Septicaemia or blood poisoning and Punctate Epithelial Keratitis. There can also be partial or total blindness from Neonatal Conjunctivitis.
Want to check how eyes affected with Conjunctivitis look like? Here are some Conjunctivitis images that you may find useful. Check out these Conjunctivitis photos and get an idea about the appearance of the condition.
Conjunctivitis is a completely curable disease and has excellent chance of prognosis following treatment. If you are having this condition or have someone suffering from it in your family, try home remedies. If the symptoms fail to improve, get in touch with an eye specialist immediately. Early treatment will cure the condition in no time and ensure a fast recovery within a few days.