Conjunctivitis ( Pink eye)
Conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye, is an inflammation of the transparent membrane that covers the inside of the eyelid and the front surface of the eyeball. As the membrane is the most superficial layer, it is also susceptible to inflammation by external factors. The condition could be owing to infectious or allergic causes. When your eye is infected by viruses, bacteria, or if it is irritated by pollen, second-hand smoke, chlorine in swimming pool water, ingredients in cosmetics, contact lenses or other allergens, inflammation or swelling may occur, leading to conjunctivitis. Symptoms of eye discomfort such as itchy or stinging eyes, redness, burning sensation, etc. may occur after infection. Read on to learn more about the causes, symptoms, tests and treatment of conjunctivitis.
Causes of Conjunctivitis
Conjunctivitis is the most common cause of red itchy eyes and is generally classified as allergic conjunctivitis or bacterial conjunctivitis.
Symptoms of Conjunctivitis
Discharge from the eye
Itching or stinging eye
Redness in the eye and inner eyelid
Crusty eyelash and eyelid
More tears than usual
Anti-inflammatory eye drops and ointments
Anti-inflammatory eye drops and ointments are effective in treating bacterial conjunctivitis.
Cold compress, artificial tear
Cold compresses or artificial tears are recommended. Neurotransmitters respond more quickly to ice than to itchy allergies, reducing itchiness and helping relieve the inflammation and dryness of the eyes caused by conjunctivitis. What’s more, patients should refrain from rubbing their eyes, blowing on them or applying hot compresses, and stop using contact lenses until the symptoms have completely disappeared to avoid further irritation and itching.
Both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are contagious and can spread from person to person via discharge from the eyes or upper respiratory tract, fingers, clothing and other items such as make-up, towels, etc. Swimmers may also be infected if they swim in contaminated water.
Bacterial conjunctivitis: it does not heal on its own and requires regular medication such as antibiotic eye ointment or eye drops (prescribed and instructed by an ophthalmologist, not self-purchased).
Viral conjunctivitis: No specific treatment is required. With adequate rest, most patients will recover on their own within 1 to 2 weeks.
In the event of deterioration or complications, corneal ulcers may occur, and in severe cases, vision may be permanently impaired. Therefore, any eye discomfort should be examined and treated by your eye doctor.
Contact lenses should not be worn. They should be thoroughly disinfected or replaced with new lenses and worn again only when fully recovered.
- Avoid hand-to-eye contact. If such contact is unavoidable, perform hand hygiene before and after contact with the eyes.
- Wash hands with liquid soap and water, and rub for at least 20 seconds, or perform hand hygiene with 70% to 80% alcohol-based.
- Do not share personal items, e.g. towels, pillows, eye droppers, eye medicines, eye makeup, contact lenses and other items that may come into contact with your eyes.
- Infected individuals should refrain from work, school or swimming until their symptoms have resolved in order to prevent the spread of infection.