What is conjunctivitis?
What is Conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin, clear
layer that covers the white surface of the eye and the inner eyelid.
Conjunctiva is commonly called “pink eye” and is the most
common cause of red eye. The sclera (white part) of the eye has fine
blood vessel within it. When the conjunctiva becomes inflamed, these
blood vessels enlarge and become more prominent, thus making the eye
There are three main types of conjunctivitis:
Infectious conjunctivitis is usually caused by a virus or bacterial
infection, is extremely contagious, and is usually associated with crusting
or pus. Viruses are the most common cause of conjunctivitis. Allergies
to pollen, cosmetics, or other materials to which a person is allergic
can cause allergic conjunctivitis. The chemical type of conjunctivitis
may be caused by irritants, such as, chlorine (in swimming pools), smoke,
Symptoms of Conjunctivitis
The most common symptom of conjunctivitis is a red eye. Other symptoms
* Discharge or crusting on eyelids
* Watery eyes or excessive tearing
* Sandy or scratchy feeling in the eye
* Sensitivity to light
* Eye pain
Note that conjunctivitis usually does not directly affect vision, but
you may notice changes in your vision because of excessive watering
or discharge. In fact, if you notice a significant change in your vision,
then you need to see your ophthalmologist to confirm the diagnosis,
as many other more serious conditions can cause the symptoms listed
Diagnosis and Treatment of Conjunctivitis
Often, a medical evaluation is important to determine the diagnosis.
After an evaluation, the type of conjunctivitis that is present determines
treatment. Antibiotic eye drops or ointment treat infectious bacterial
forms of conjunctivitis, whereas, chemical and allergic conjunctivitis
are best treated by avoiding exposure to the irritant that is causing
the inflammation. There are also medications available that can help
relieve the discomfort associated with allergic and chemical conjunctivitis.
Viral conjunctivitis, which is the most common form, is not treatable
by standard antibiotics. In most cases, viral conjunctivitis will clear
itself after 10 to 14 days.
Good hygiene can help prevent the spread of infectious conjunctivitis.
* Keeping hands away from eyes
* Frequent hand washing
* Replacing eye make-up frequently
* Do not share towels, eye make-up, handkerchiefs, or eye drops
* Using care and good hygiene when using contact lenses
The prognosis for conjunctivitis is usually very good. However, certain
forms can develop into more serious eye conditions that can harm the
eye. Therefore, it is very important to have your condition diagnosed
and treated as soon as possible.