What is conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva. The white portion of the eye (the sclera) is covered by a thin transparent membrane called the conjunctiva. When the conjunctiva is irritated or inflamed, the blood vessels in the conjunctiva become congested and dilated, leading to a red eye.
How does a conjunctivitis develop?
Conjunctivitis can have several causes:
⦁ Virus (usually adenovirus)
⦁ Bacteria (staphylococcus, streptococcus, pneumococcus, haemophilus, etc.)
⦁ Irritant (for example, contact lens cleaning products)
Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are contagious. Any contact with the contaminated ocular secretions can lead to disease transmission. Frequent hand hygiene of the affected person and of those who are in contact can help to reduce the risk of transmission.
What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis?
All conjunctivitis show a redness of the eye, the other symptoms depend on the type of conjunctivitis:
- Allergic conjunctivitis are characterized by itchy eyes, swollen and watery eyes
- Bacterial conjunctivitis are associated with purulent secretions, and usually affect only one eye.
- Viral conjunctivitis are usually associated with sore throat, runny nose or contact with a person with red eyes.
There are several other eye conditions that give red eyes. Pain, blurred vision or photophobia may indicate the presence of conditions other than conjunctivitis and should lead you to consult your doctor quickly.
What are the available treatments?
The treatment of conjunctivitis depends on its cause:
- Allergic conjunctivitis are treated by avoiding exposure to the allergen, and by using antihistamine eyedrops.
- Viral conjunctivitis are usually only treated with artificial tears and cold compresses.
- Bacterial conjunctivitis may benefit from antibiotic eye drops in addition to artificial tears.