Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink-eye, is an infection of the conjunctiva (the outer-most layer of the eye that covers the sclera).
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
What is conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, is an infection of the conjunctiva (the outer-most layer of the eye that covers the sclera). It is very common
in India especially during the monsoons. The three most common types of conjunctivitis are: viral, allergic, and bacterial. Each requires different treatments.
With the exception of the allergic type, conjunctivitis is typically contagious.
The viral type is often associated with an upper respiratory tract infection, cold, or sore throat. The allergic type occurs more frequently among those
with allergic conditions. When related to allergies, the symptoms are often seasonal. Allergic conjunctivitis may also be caused by intolerance to substances
such as cosmetics, perfume, or drugs. Bacterial conjunctivitis is often caused by bacteria such as staphylococcus and streptococcus. The severity of the
infection depends on the type of bacteria involved.
What are the signs and symptoms?
picture showing Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Viral conjunctivitis: There is watery discharge, irritation, eyes are red, and though the infection usually begins with one eye, it spreads rapidly to the
Allergic conjunctivitis: Usually affects both eyes, the eyes are itchy, watery and the eyelids are swollen.
Bacterial conjunctivitis: There is a viscous and stringy discharge that may cause the lids to stick together, especially after sleeping, the conjunctiva
are swollen, red, teary, feel gritty (as if there is sand in them) and is very contagious – rapidly spreading to the other eye.
How is it diagnosed?
Viral and allergic conjunctivitis is usually diagnosed symptomatically (especially when the season is on!). Bacterial conjunctivitis, being more serious
in nature is done by an ophthalmologist using a slit lamp microscope, and in some cases by taking a culture to determine the type of bacteria causing the
How is it treated?
Conjunctivitis requires medical attention. The appropriate treatment depends on the cause of the problem.
For the allergic type, cool compresses and artificial tears sometimes relieve discomfort in mild cases. In more severe cases, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
medications and antihistamines may be prescribed. Some patients with persistent allergic conjunctivitis may also require topical steroid drops.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is usually treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointments that cover a broad range of bacteria.
Like the common cold, there is no cure for viral conjunctivitis; however, the symptoms can be relieved with cool compresses and artificial tears. For the
worst cases, topical steroid drops may be prescribed to reduce the discomfort from inflammation. Viral conjunctivitis usually resolves within three weeks.
What can I do to prevent conjunctivitis?
Take these simple steps:
list of 4 items
• Avoid touching the face and the eyes
• Wash hands frequently
• Do not share towels or washcloths
• Do not reuse handkerchiefs (using a tissue is best)