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Other Names:
Pink Eye, Conjunctival Inflammation, Red Eye, Eye Infection
Conjunctivitis

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Definition

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane (conjunctiva) that covers your eyeballs. Inflammation causes the conjunctival blood vessels to become prominent, resulting in a pinkish or reddish cast to the whites of your eyes. Conjunctivitis may affect one or both eyes.

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Causes

  • Viruses similar in type to cold virus.
  • Bacteria
  • Fungi
  • Chlamydia
  • Allergies e.g. pollen, dust
  • Irritants like shampoos, eye cosmetics, solutions used for contact lens care, smoke

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Symptoms

  • Redness in the white of eye or eyelid, in one or both eyes
  • Itchiness in one or both eyes
  • Blurring of vision
  • Watering of the eyes
  • Photophobia or increased sensitivity to light.
  • Thick yellowish, greenish or whitish stringy discharge in one or both eyes
  • Eyes may seem pasted shut when you wake up in the morning, due to crusting of discharge over the eyelashes
  • Foreign body sensation or a gritty feeling in one or both eyes.

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Implications

Conjunctivitis rarely affects your eyesight but it can be extremely irritating and discomforting. Conjunctivitis can be highly contagious, so it should be diagnosed and treated promptly.

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What You Can Do

  • Specific Measures
    • Bacterial Infection
      • Antibiotic eye drops
    • Viral Infection
      • May resolve on its own usually within a week.
    • Allergic conjunctivitis
      • Antihistamines, decongestants, mast cell stabilizers, steroids and anti-inflammatory eye drops

  • General Measures
    • Soothe the discomfort of conjunctivitis by applying warm compresses to your affected eye or eyes. To make a compress, soak a clean, lint-free cloth in warm water and wring it out before applying it gently to your closed eyelids.
    • Avoid rubbing your eyes as it might release more histamines and worsen the condition. Instead, use cool compresses to soothe your eyes.

  • Preventative Measures
    • Practice good hygienic habits.
    • Do not touch your eyes with your hands, always use a tissue or a clean handkerchief.
    • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water.
    • Change your towel and washcloth daily.
    • Do not share your personal items with others.
    • Change your pillowcase on a regular basis.
    • Discard eye cosmetics, particularly mascara and eye liners that might contain irritants.
    • If you eyes are sensitive, consult a cosmetic consultant before purchasing these products.
    • Be sure to purchase products that are specifically manufactured for sensitive eyes.
    • Do not use other people's eye cosmetics or other personal items that may come in contact with your eyes.
    • Practice proper contact lens care.

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Conjunctivitis