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Conjunctivitis: Causes, symptoms, types, and prevention
04 Sep 2021


Most of us have experienced pink eyes at least once in our childhood. Pink eye or conjunctivitis is an inflammation or infection that occurs in the clear tissue which lies over the white part of your eye and lines of the eyelid. They are caused mainly due to a bacterial or viral infection and due to allergic reactions. 

Even though pink eyes can be irritating, it barely affects your vision. Early-stage treatment can prevent the infection from worsening.

What Causes Pink Eyes?

Several factors cause Pink Eye. Some of the major causes may include:

  1. Bacteria and viruses
  2. Allergies due to medicines, such as eye drops
  3. Irritants such as shampoos, conditioners, smoke, dust, etc
  4. Allergies are caused due to the usage of wearing contact lenses.
  5. Parasites and fungi

Besides, there are many other factors such as Sexually Transmitted Diseases(STDs) like Gonorrhea which can bring dangerous bacterial conjunctivitis. Improper treatment of pink eyes due to gonorrhea can be really dangerous.

Newborn babies who have conjunctivitis should be treated at an early stage as it can be a threat to their vision. Recent studies show that pink eyes can also be a serious symptom as well an aftereffect of the Covid-19 virus.

What Are The Symptoms?

The most common symptoms associated with pink eyes are:

  1. Pink or red color in the white of the eye
  2. Swelling in the eyelid area
  3. Increased tears than usual
  4. Burning sensation in the eyes
  5. Itching or irritation
  6. Green or white discharge from the eye
  7. Blurred vision
  8. Swollen lymph nodes
  9. More sensitive to light
  10. A dusty feeling in the eye

What Are The Types Of Pinkeye?

  1. Bacterial Conjunctivitis

Bacterial conjunctivitis is a common type of pink eye, caused by several sources of contamination. Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused due to exposure with the infected person, contaminated sources, or sinus or ear infections.

Bacterial conjunctivitis produces pus or thick white or green discharges and can affect both eyes. The only way to prevent the spread of bacterial conjunctivitis is to follow handwashing and hygiene techniques.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is more like a bacterial infection. You need an antibiotic medicine, eyedrop, or ointment to treat this type of conjunctivitis. Treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis usually lasts from one to two weeks depending upon the severity faced by the patient.

  1. Viral Conjunctivitis

Viral conjunctivitis is an airborne infection that spreads mostly through sneezing and coughing. Watery discharge is associated with this type of conjunctivitis. Usually, it starts from one eye and spreads quickly over the other.

Unlike bacterial conjunctivitis, antibiotics don’t work against viral conjunctivitis. Sadly there is no effective treatment against viral conjunctivitis. But they are self-limited, which means they only infect for a particular period. 

The duration of the latter is from 5  days to 1 week. After that our eye starts to enhance itself. Treatment of viral conjunctivitis involves supportive medical therapies, such as eye drops, to reduce symptoms such as surface swelling and redness.

  1. Allergic Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis caused by allergies is also very common. Few common factors associated with allergic conjunctivitis include climatic changes, pollen, hair, animal fur, etc.

The most common symptom related to allergic conjunctivitis includes itchy eyes and irritation. It can be relieved by anti-allergic eye drops.

  1. Non-Infectious Conjunctivitis

Non-infectious conjunctivitis can be a result of substances that are direct or indirect contact with the eyes. These may include petrol, kerosine, smoke, dust, perfumes, and certain chemicals. 

This type of conjunctivitis may vary from person to person depending on their physical responses towards different materials. They will not be transferred from one person to another. Medical treatments will be provided by your health expert considering your response towards various substances.

  1. Giant papillary conjunctivitis

Giant papillary conjunctivitis is mainly caused due to contact lenses. Due to giant papillary conjunctivitis, the inside of your eyes gets swollen and itchy. 

The majority chance of having giant papillary conjunctivitis is in people who are using contact lenses for many years. This type of conjunctivitis can also happen in persons who are not using contact lenses. But these cases are rare.

How can you Prevent Pink Eyes?

As always, prevention is better than cure. The key to preventing pink eyes is hygiene. One of the common methods to prevent pink eyes is 

  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Use a clean towel to dry your face
  • Don’t share your clothes and towels 
  • Don’t share your cosmetics, mainly those related to your eyes such as eyebrow pencils and mascaras.
  • Change your blankets and pillow covers often

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When To Consult A Doctor? 

Not every symptom of pink eyes should be taken carelessly. Sometimes pink eyes can lead to serious issues. You should immediately consult medical care if:

  1. You experience severe eye pain
  2. There is a lot of green and white discharge coming out of your eye
  3. Your white part of the eye is completely obstructed by redness 
  4. You have high sensitivity towards light
  5. You experience heavy pain the face
  6. You are facing vision loss

If your symptoms don’t change in 12 to 24 hours, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible. Pink eyes in newborn babies as mentioned are a serious matter to be taken into consideration. They should be treated soon or else there is a chance that it could affect their vision.

People who are using contact lenses or other eye lenses should stop wearing them quickly. You should also seek medical help if your symptoms remain mild but you have heavy redness in the eye. Redness in the eyes can also be a factor due to allergies and climatic changes too.

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