Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the membrane that lines your eyelid and covers the front-part of your eyeball. In the case of an inflammation, the tiny blood vessels in the conjunctiva become inflamed and cause the whites of your eyes to appear reddish pink. This is why conjunctivitis is also referred to as pink eye.
What causes conjunctivitis?
Based on their causes, there are three types of conjunctivitis: viral, bacterial and allergic.
Viral or bacterial inflammation can affect one or both eyes. Allergic inflammation affects both eyes.
In addition, conjunctivitis can also be caused by chemical agents, smoke and other irritants getting into your eye.
Symptoms of conjunctivitis
The main symptom characteristic to all forms of conjunctivitis is the redness and discomfort of the eyes.
- Viral conjunctivitis is characterized by aqueous discharge, red or purple spots on the conjunctiva (petechiae) and fever.
- In the case of bacterial inflammation, the eye will secrete puss, resulting in eyelashes being stuck together and goundy in the morning.
- Allergic inflammation causes a burning sensation, foreign body sensation, itching and sensitivity to light.
Pink eye treatment largely depends on the causes.
- In the case of viral conjunctivitis, treatment is often not required and the disease will go away on its own. Artificial tears can be used to alleviate the symptoms.
- Bacterial conjunctivitis is treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointments.
- Allergy medicine is used to treat allergic conjunctivitis. It is recommended to start taking the medication pre-emptively, before the start of the allergy period.
Personal hygiene is the key factor in preventing infection. Both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are very contagious – if one eye gets infected, special care must be taken to prevent the inflammation from spreading into the other (healthy) eye.
Do the following to avoid conjunctivitis.
- Do not share personal items, such as towels, cosmetics.
- Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes.
- Wash your hands often, especially in public spaces.
- If you wear contact lenses, strictly adhere to the care instructions.
- Use swimming goggles when swimming to avoid the bacteria and microorganisms in the water from getting into your eyes.