Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the eyelid lining (thin tissue located on the back of the eyelids with a defending role and maintaining the eye moist).
The most often incriminated causes in the occurrence of conjunctivitis are:
- Virus infection
- Infection with bacteria (such as gonorrhea or chlamydia)
- Irritants such as shampoos, dust, cigarette smoke, gases and other environmental pollutants, chlorine used for water treatment (swimming pools)
- Allergens, especially dust, makeup, pollen, contact lenses.
The cause of infectious conjunctivitis (viral or bacterial etiology) can be transmitted from person to person but can not cause serious complications if conjunctivitis is diagnosed and treated early.
Symptoms of conjunctivitis vary depending on the degree of inflammation in the conjunctiva and includes the following:
- Conjunctival hyperemia (redness of conjunctival mucosa)
- Excessive amount of tears)
- White-yellow discharge, which is stored at the root of lashes and the corner of the eye, especially after sleep
- Thick green discharge
- Conjunctival pruritus (itching, appeared in conjunctival mucosa, which may increase hyperaemia due to scratching)
- Burning eyes sensation
- Blurred vision
- Photophobia (sensitivity to light).
When any specific conjunctivitis symptoms appear, you need specialized medical advice. The ophthalmologist will perform a thorough examination of the eye and eventually harvest, using a sterile swab a sample of pathological ocular secretions. Microbiological examination of the eye discharge may identify the cause conjunctivitis (viral or bacterial infections), including sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and therefore conjunctivitis can be treated accordingly.
The correct treatment of conjunctivitis depends firstly on its etiology.
Bacterial conjunctivitis, including STDs (sexually transmited diseases), are usually treated with eye drops with antibiotic (eyewash), ointments or pills. Eye drops and ointments have to be applied to the conjunctiva 3-4 times per day for a period of 5-7 days. Antibiotic pills are also given for several days (5-7 days). Conjunctivitis symptoms get better or disappear after about week after starting treatment. It is very important that patients diagnosed with conjunctivitis should be treated by an ophthalmologist and do not stop even if symptoms have improved, to avoid the appearance of relapses.
Viral conjunctivitis is one of the most common eye infections and is usually caused by influenza and parainfluenza virus (seasonal). Viral conjunctivitis is one of the first manifestations of common colds and it has a self-limiting evolution (heals without treatment) after an interval of 5-7 days after onset.
Allergic conjunctivitis is most common in people with atopy (allergic predisposition) and is usually treated with specific anti-allergy medication. It is important to identify allergens that cause conjunctivitis in order to prevent the new episodes of allergic conjunctivitis.
Conjunctivitis caused by irritants (substances from the environment, which can cause physical or chemical irritation of the lining). In this type of conjunctivitis rapid removal of the irritants is very important (washing) . In case of conjunctivitis caused by acid or alkaline substances (bleach), medical help is mandatory.
Eye drops are the most common treatment used for the eradication of conjunctivitis, so it is very important that this is done correctly. It is mandatory to carefully read the prospectus before applying any medical treatment. The conjunctiva should not be reached directly by the bottle to avoid contamination with infectious agents (bacteria or virus). After applying the solution in the median eye angle (above the lacrimal sac), close eyes and keep them closed for 1-2 minutes, to facilitate local absorption of the drug. Usually 3-4 applications are given daily for a period of 5-7 days, depending on the type of product used.
Remember that the ophthalmic container can be used by only one person and should not be shared, also it can not be reused (its shelf life is approximately 30 days after first use).
To prevent and relieve symptoms caused by conjunctivitis, we recommend the following:
- Eye protection against dust and external irritants (sunglasses, eye hygiene)
- Avoiding use of cosmetics (makeup), especially in people with increased sensitivity
- Proper use of contact lenses with regular removal and washing.
- Use “artificial tears” (eye drops specifically made to keep the eye moist and clean)
These drops can relieve unpleasant symptoms caused by conjunctivitis caused by irritants (itching, burning, intraocular foreign body sensation). It is important to note that not all eye drops are indicated in conjunctivitis, some eyewash (drops) may even worsen symptoms and cause complications. It is also very important to use proper containers and avoid contamination of the container which can cause ocular reinfection.
Prophylaxis and treatment of conjunctivitis in children
For children with conjunctivitis:
- Avoid scratching (rubbing) and touching the infected area
- More frequent hand washing with soap and water
- Wipe pathological secretion that occurs in the eye with a sterile swab for at least 2 times a day
- Things of personal hygiene, such as bed linen (pillow), towels have to be washed and disinfected properly
- Avoid using collective makeup (mascara, makeup), and avoid sharing other facial care products.
- Do not share contact lenses
- Is recommended to use glasses instead of contact lenses when the eye has an irritation or infection.
- Wash hands after applying local ointments
- Avoid of sharing towels and bed linen
- It is forbidden to use a used eye drops container to a healthy baby after it has been previously used by a person with infectious conjunctivitis
- It is important that any child with infectious conjunctivitis should be isolated from the rest of the children who may come into contact with.
Conjunctivitis is a self-limiting disease (it heals without treatment after a certain time) or disappears after correct etiological treatment (antibiotic). However, it should be noted that there are certain forms of conjunctivitis that can worsen, causing serious complications that can lead to vision problems. Gonorrhea and chlamydia conjunctivitis can create serious complications. Infectious conjunctivitis is a highly contagious disease and so there is no 100% way to avoid possible contamination. However maintaining a proper hygiene reduces the risk of contamination and appearance of conjunctivitis. Allergic conjunctivitis has a cyclical trend (seasonal), depending on exposure to allergens that cause the disease, so it is important to avoid possible exposure to allergens (pollen, dust, contact lenses, etc.)