Eyes are a very delicate part of your body and require proper care. They get negatively affected by stimulants and various infections quite easily. One type of eye infection that is very common in children and can irritate your eyes is Conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis, that is also known as pinkeye happens when the conjunctiva is interrupted or inflammed by an infection or allergies. Basically, the conjunctiva is the thin clear tissue that lies over the white part of the eye and is present under the eyelid. A person can have conjunctivitis in one or even both the eyes. Pink eye can be contagious and one should not even touch their eyes again and again to avoid the spread of infection.It is rarely serious and can be overcome with the help of medications, preventive measures and eye drops as suggested by your doctor. To know more about conjunctivitis, Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Sanjay Dhawan, Director & Head – Ophthalmology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, Max Hospital, Gurgaon, Max Multi Speciality Centre, Panchsheel and ParkMax Smart Super Speciality Hospital, Saket. Read on to know about the symptoms, causes and ways to treat this eye infection.
Conjunctivitis is basically an inflammation on the surface of the eye and most commonly it is caused due to an infection. So, people basically understand it as infected conjunctivitis. As a generic term, it is any inflammation whether infected or allergic, but commonly it is understood as infected conjunctivitis. So, it is basically the inflammation or infection on the surface of the eye. There are many causes for this eye infection. The most common one is the viral Infection.Then comes bacterial, fungal and other types of infections too. And, it is the viral Infection which is usually very contagious and can harm in the form of an endemic. Dr. Sanjay Dhawan said, "Conjunctivitis spreads from person to person most commonly in the rainy season. So what we commonly see as the acute red aye or is due to a viral Infection to the eye. It may even be caused due to an allergic reaction to an eye drop, dust or smoke. Conjunctivitis is not a serious health problem if diagnosed treated properly."
Talking about allergy as a cause, this allergy is also called allergic conjunctivitis, which could be due to dust, pollen in the air, smoke or something that people consume like food items. So, in those cases, anti allergic medicines maybe required. Sometimes, incase of allergy you may even have to give steroids. Some form of allergies are more common in the young boys from the age of 5-15 which is called Spring Catarrh. That typically shows more in the months of summers and less in winters. It can continue year after year for 3-5 seasons or even longer also. Can be associated with some complications in the cornea as well. So they require a close diagnosis by an ophthalmologist. Then, it can also be caused by chemical conjunctivitis. For example - Kajal, mascara, eye shadows, hair color. Although conjunctivitis caused by hair color can continue upto months or years without the person realising that it's because of the hair color. There are cases where people have chronic conjunctivitis caused by the hair color and it persists till the hair color remains. So, doctors have a tough time in persuading people to stop using hair color. Then, even after stopping, it takes months for its effect to wear off. This is a very common cause of chemical conjunctivitis .
Pink eye symptoms
The symptoms of conjunctivitis vary from mild to advance, different in every patient, depending upon the stage of the eye infection. The signs of conjunctivitis also differ on the basis of the cause. From getting pink and watery to getting swelled up, there are many indications that tell about conjunctivitis. Bacterial conjunctivitis may also lead to pus discharge from the eye. Moreover, you might even feel a lump in your eye in conjunctivitis. One, one of your eyes gets infected, the other eye comes in the picture quite quickly. As per Dr. Sanjay, the main symptoms of pink eye are:
- Slight Discomfort
- Discharge from the eyes
- Swelling in the eye
- Very infrequently it can be blurring of the vision
Conjunctivitis can be treated at home in most of the cases. Along with the treatment, the basic precaution that needs to be taken is personal hygiene, especially the hand hygiene. If the person goes and touches their eye, it is important to wash your hands and do not shake hands with anyone.The precautions that are being taken for COVID-19 for hand hygiene, similar precautions need to be taken for conjunctivitis also. Moreover, conjunctivitis can be seen in COVID-19 patients as well. There are patients who get conjunctivitis as their first symptom as soon as Coronavirus attacks. In very rare cases, it may even damage your vision if treatment and self care tips are ignored for a long time. Most conjunctivitis are caused by a viral Infection and gets treated on its own in a week's time. One just needs to take some soothing eye drops and decongestant eye drops, as advised by the doctor. Cold compresses can also help in such situations. In other cases, where it is bacterial or secondary infections, that is where the antibiotic eye drops are required. However, for that, it is always better to visit an ophthalmologist for further treatment.
Tips to prevent Conjunctivitis
You can keep your eyes safe by taking care of them by taking some easy measure. Pink eye spreads very quickly and you can avoid getting and even spreading it to others people. Infection can also enter through your mouth or nose. Therefore, not just eyes, you have to take steps to protect these parts too. There are some triggers that you can avoid to stay protected from allergies. So, here are some tips to that you can follow to prevent Conjunctivitis:
- Don't touch your eyes unnecessarily
- Keep washing your hands regularly
- Avoid using cosmetic products on eyes
- Take zinc rich foods
- Clean your eyes with clean water from time to time
- Take proper sleep
- Stay hydrated
- Wipe your face and eyes with a clean towel
- Don't share your beauty products
- Avoid rubbing your eyes without any reason
- Don't go into dusty or smoky areas
- Use cool compresses
These were the symptoms, causes and treatment of conjunctivitis by Dr. Sanjay Dhawan. In some cases, even contact lenses can be irritating for the eye and cause a pink eye. You can change your lens case and use spectacles for sometime. As it can spread through a contaminated surface or person to person, so one can even chose to prevent this eye infection using the above listen precaution tips. In addition, if your child gets pink eye, then it is best to skip school and stay at home for self cure as there is a huge risk of it spreading in the whole class. If not, the parents can take their child to an opthalmologist for treatment.
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