Eye conjunctivitis: Description, Causes and Risk Factors:Alternative name: Blennophthalmia.Conjunctivitis is an inflammation and redness of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the membrane that lines the white part of the eye and the underside of the eyelid. Conjunctivitis can be caused by infection, an allergic reaction, or a physical agent, such as infrared or ultraviolet light. Conjunctivitis is often referred to as pink eye because the infection causes the eye to become very bloodshot.There are several types of conjunctivitis, including the following:Allergic conjunctivitis.
Causes and Risk Factors:Eye conjunctivitis may be caused by a viral infection, such as a cold, acute respiratory infection, or disease such as measles, herpes simplex, or herpes zoster. Infection with an adenovirus, however, may also cause a significant amount of puslike discharge and a scratchy, foreign body-type of sensation in the eye. This may also be accompanied by swelling and tenderness of the lymph nodes near the ear.
Bacterial conjunctivitis can occur in adults and children and is caused by organisms such as Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and Hemophilus.
Conjunctivitis may also be caused by environmental hazards, such as wind, smoke, dust, and allergic reactions caused by pollen, dust, or grass.
Persons who wear contact lenses may develop allergic conjunctivitis caused by the various eye solutions and foreign proteins contained in them.
Other less common causes of conjunctivitis include exposure to sun lamps or the electrical arcs used during welding, and problems with inadequate drainage of the tear ducts.
Infective eye conjunctivitis is highly contagious, therefore, there is no surefire way to avoid getting it. However, maintaining proper hygiene should minimize transmission. With regards to allergic eye conjunctivitis, avoiding allergens and taking proper care of your contact lenses can help reduce your risk. If someone in your household has conjunctivitis, be sure to wash your hands often and thoroughly. Avoid sharing washcloths, towels, pillowcases, mascara or eyeliner with them.Newborns are highly susceptible to conjunctivitis and can develop more serious complications if the condition goes untreated. As a preventive measure, all newborns are treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointment immediately after birth.Usually, conjunctivitis is a self-limited disease, either clearing up on its own or after a course of antibiotics, however, certain forms of conjunctivitis can become serious and become sight-threatening. They include conjunctivitis caused by gonorrhea or chlamydia.Symptoms:Symptoms of eye conjunctivitis can range from mild to serious. They can affect one eye or both. Some common symptoms include redness of the eye, swelling of the eyelid, and a discharge from the eye. The discharge is watery and either yellow or green in color.The symptoms of infectious conjunctivitis caused by a bacteria or viruses may include:Eye pain.Swelling of the eyes.Redness in the eyes.Yellow, green or watery discharge from the eyes which collects overnight and crusts over the eye.A gritty feeling in the eye.Itching of the eye.An enlarged lymph gland in front of the ear.The symptoms of conjunctivitis caused by allergies may include:Intense itching of the eye.Excessive tearing of the eye.Swelling of the eye.Redness of the eye.Sneezing.Runny nose.Diagnosis:To determine whether you have eye conjunctivitis, your doctor may examine your eyes. Your doctor may also take a sample of eye secretions from your conjunctiva for laboratory analysis to determine which form of infection you have and how best to treat it.Gram stain is considered the criterion standard for determining the bacterial cause of conjunctivitis. Simple conjunctivitis does not require a Gram stain. Eosinophils seen on Gram stain are indicative of allergic conjunctivitis but can be seen in parasitic causes.Giemsa staining is performed to look for the inclusion bodies of Chlamydia versus a viral etiology in culture-negative conjunctivitis. This technique has a low yield, except in neonatal inclusion conjunctivitis. The presence of eosinophils is diagnostic of allergic conjunctivitis.Treatment:Treatment for conjunctivitis can vary widely, depending on what causes the eye condition.Your medical provider may prescribe antibiotic ointment or drops if she/he suspects that the conjunctivitis is secondary to a bacterial infection. Use this medication as directed. You may also apply warm, water-soaked gauze compresses 3 or 4 times per day over the affected eyes for 10 to 15 minutes each time. This helps with the healing process. Conjunctivitis due to a cold virus will go away by itself after a few days.If you are diagnosed as having allergic conjunctivitis, your provider may prescribe antihistamines to take orally and/or in eye drop form. Use the medication as directed. Cool water-soaked gauze compresses over your eyes may be soothing in this case.Viral Conjunctivitis Treatments: Because many forms of conjunctivitis are viral, for which there is no curative treatment, it is important to pinpoint exact symptoms to determine the underlying cause of conjunctivitis before treatment is considered.People whose allergic conjunctivitis symptoms can be controlled only with steroids and who require ongoing treatment must be monitored for potential increases in eye pressure and cataract development that are potential side effects of steroids.Preventive Measures:Good hygiene can help prevent the spread of conjunctivitis:
Change pillowcases frequently.
Do not share eye cosmetics.
Do not share towels or handkerchiefs.
Handle and clean contact lenses properly.
Keep hands away from the eye.
Replace eye cosmetics regularly.
Wash your hands often.
Disclaimer: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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