PINK EYE (ACUTE CONJUNCTIVITIS)
Conjunctivitis is an infection that affects the outer layer of the eye especially the white portion and the inside of the eyelids. It is not a serious condition and is referred to as ‘pink eye’ also.
Commonly there are infective and non-infective conjunctivitis. Non-infective is more commonly allergic conjunctivitis. We will describe infective conjunctivitis in this article. Infective conjunctivitis is most commonly viral and occasionally bacterial.
This is highly contagious and spreads like wildfire and affects most members of the family if they are in close contact with an affected person. Many times, it follows a cold or sore throat infection.
The lids swell up and there is watery discharge in these cases. The eyes become pink and there is a gritty feeling in the eyes. It often starts in one eye and then spreads to the other. The eyelids stick to each other in the morning. Vision is not usually affected and this resolves in a few days.
Bacterial conjunctivitis progresses very fast and there is a lot of mucoid and sticky discharge, which is yellowish in color. The swelling of the lids is more. Children and the elderly are more at risk of bacterial conjunctivitis. Also, people with weaker immune systems such as those with diabetes. Not washing hands before touching the eyes like when we place a contact lens in the eyes can lead to infection with bacteria.
Viral conjunctivitis usually resolves on its own. Bacterial conjunctivitis should not be neglected and needs prompt treatment. Removing the crusts and the discharge is very important. The lids need to be cleaned with a cotton ball which has been moistened with clean water and the lid margins and lashes need to be cleaned. Antibiotic drops are prescribed to prevent secondary infection with bacteria in cases of viral conjunctivitis and in bacterial infection they can be used multiple times a day. Lubricants are used to reduce the gritty feeling of the eyes and get rid of the foreign body sensation. Antibiotic ointment helps in rapid clearance.
One should not wear contact lenses until the infection has cleared up completely. Use new lenses once the infection has cleared.
Most important is to avoid close contact with others at home and in the workplace until the discharge has cleared up. Children should ideally avoid school until the infection clears up. Do not let anyone use your towel. Use a separate fresh wipe or towel for each eye. The infection clears off completely and long-lasting side effects are unlikely with infective conjunctivitis.
Dr. Ramesh Murthy is one of the best eye specialists and one of the best cataract surgeons in Pune and he is available at Axis Eye Clinic which is one of the best eye clinics in Pune.
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