Delhi alone has reported more than 100 cases of Conjunctivitis per day in 2023.
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation, commonly known as Pink eye. It occurs in the eye and leads to inconvenience and discomfort. It affects the conjunctiva of the eyes, which is a transparent and thin membrane covering the front of the eyes and the eyelids' inner surface. Hearing about its cases is less frequent in other seasons than in the rainy season. But why? The prevalence of this inflammation increases alarmingly in the rainy season due to several factors. The high humidity level is one of the most significant reasons.
It is essential to understand Conjunctivitis to prevent and treat it. This article delves into the same and answers the most common questions about it. From Conjunctivitis meaning to its symptoms, causes, and treatment options, this blog is a complete guide on Pink Eye. So, if you are curious to know more about conjunctivitis, continue reading.
What is Conjunctivitis?
An inflammation of the conjunctiva in the eyes is known as Pink eye or Conjunctivitis. Conjunctiva is a thin and transparent layer covering the eyeball and eyelid. This inflammation makes the whites of the eyes pink or reddish. This is due to the swollen and irritated blood vessels of the conjunctiva, making them more visible.
It is a viral infection caused in individuals of any age but spreads more among children. Conjunctivitis can also be caused due to allergic reactions, bacterial infection, and incomplete opening of the tear ducts in babies.
Due to itching and release of a sticky substance in the eyes, this infection can be very irritating but, the good news is, it does not affect one's vision. However, it is contagious, making it essential to take precautions to prevent its spread. Several treatment options can help ease the discomfort caused by this infection.
As you are now equipped with the basics of this infection, let us move on to the next section of this post, which discusses its causes in detail.
What are the causes of Conjunctivitis?
Viruses- The most common cause of this inflammation is viruses. Adenoviruses and coronaviruses like COVID-19 and common cold viruses are the prevalent causes of this infection.
Bacteria- Streptococcus pneumonia, Haemophilus influenzae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus are some of the most common bacteria causing Conjunctivitis.
Allergens- Another cause behind Pink eye is the allergens like pollen and molds.
Irritation-causing substances- Conjunctivitis may also occur due to substances that irritate the eyes. These may include cosmetics, pool chlorine, smoke, dirt, contact lenses, and shampoos.
STIs- Viruses like Herpes simplex and bacteria like chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause STIs which can further cause pink eye in adults and newborns.
Blocked tear ducts- This infection is caused in babies due to incompletely opened or blocked tear ducts.
Autoimmune conditions- Rarely, Conjunctivitis can also be caused due to autoimmune diseases.
The following section of this blog will introduce you to the Conjunctivitis symptoms.
What are some Conjunctivitis symptoms?
Based on the exact cause of Conjunctivitis, its symptoms can vary. But, this infection does have some common symptoms, as listed below -
Difficulty in opening eyes in the morning due to a sticky discharge crust formed during the night
Redness in both or one eye
Itchiness in eyes
Photophobia- sensitivity to light
Gritty feeling in the eyes
Keeping the symptoms of this infection in your knowledge will help you know when to see a doctor for early diagnosis. But can doctors cure this infection? Let's find it out in the next part of this guide.
Is Conjunctivitis curable?
Yes, it certainly is. Conjunctivitis takes around seven to fourteen days to clear up without any treatment. It does not leave any long-term consequences or harm one's vision, except in some severe cases. In some instances, this infection can take up to three weeks to cure.
Pink Eye can be cured without treatment. But, doctors treat infected individuals to ease the discomfort and speed up the cure process.
Treatments and cure
Conjunctivitis treatment includes prescribing varying ointments, eye drops, and tablets depending on the causing agents.
Usually, Conjunctivitis caused by viruses does not need treatment. But, if it is caused by a varicella-zoster virus or herpes simplex virus, it must be addressed immediately with suitable antiviral medications. These infections are severe and can cause eye scars and vision loss if not treated appropriately on time.
Antibiotic eye drops, pills, and ointments are used to treat Pink eye caused by bacteria.
Conjunctivitis caused by irritation-causing substances
Such cases can be treated by immediately rinsing the eyes with water to remove the irritating substance. However, if the irritation continues even after four hours, one must contact a doctor.
These cases are treated with eye drops containing antihistamines or anti-inflammatory drugs to control allergic reactions.
Conjunctivitis caused by STIs
Conjunctivitis caused by STIs can be severe and is immediately treated with suitable medications.
Pink eye caused by Autoimmune disease
Such cases can be treated by treating the underlying autoimmune illness. Till then, the doctors prescribe medications and ways to manage symptoms and provide ease.
Conjunctivitis is a curable inflammation that usually clears up in a week or two. It leaves no long-term consequences or harm to the vision. However, in some severe cases, vision loss can be caused by this infection. Hence, it is essential to visit a trusted healthcare practitioner to get appropriate treatment. One must visit a doctor as soon as the symptoms develop. Also, precautionary steps must be followed during the spread of this infection to prevent contracting it.
Stay safe, stay aware, and keep updating your knowledge with my blogs.
The Author : Dr. Sunil Khattri
Dr. Sunil Khattri MBBS, MS(General Surgery), LLB, is a Medical doctor and is a practicing Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi.