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Conjunctivitis(PINK EYE INFECTION)The Contagious Reality

Understanding Conjunctivitis (PINK EYE INFECTION)

Conjunctivitis, commonly known as “pink eye” or “sticky eye,” is a prevalent eye condition characterized by the inflammation of the eye’s clear outer layer, known as the conjunctiva, and the inside of the eyelid. This condition causes the white part of the eye to become pink or red, with one or both eyes potentially exhibiting symptoms such as watering, soreness, or itchiness. In some cases, there may be a sticky white or yellow discharge, adding to the discomfort.

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TYPES

  1. Viral Conjunctivitis: Often associated with viruses causing the common cold, viral conjunctivitis presents symptoms either independently or alongside a general cold syndrome. It spreads through contact, primarily with objects contaminated by the infected person’s eye secretions.
  2. Bacterial Conjunctivitis: Highly contagious, bacterial conjunctivitis, prevalent in children, spreads through contact with objects touched by the infected person’s eye secretions.
Close Up of Man Touch His Severe Bloodshot Red Blood Eye Affected by Conjunctivitis or After Allergy. Man with Viral Blepharitis, Conjunctivitis, Adenoviruses. Irritated, Infected Eye. Copy Space
  1. Allergic Conjunctivitis: Triggered by airborne allergens, symptoms may include redness, watery discharge, and itching. The onset can be sudden, seasonal, or perennial, depending on the allergen.
  2. Toxic Conjunctivitis: Chronic inflammation resulting from exposure to agents like preservatives or medications.
  3. Nonspecific Conjunctivitis: Characterized by a red eye and discharge unrelated to infection, allergy, or toxicity. Causes may include dry eyes, chemical splashes, or foreign bodies, typically resolving within 24 hours.

CAUSES

The causes of conjunctivitis include bacterial or viral infections, allergies, and irritants such as dust or chemicals. It’s crucial to identify the specific cause to determine the most effective treatment. Direct contact with eye discharge from an infected person or contaminated objects can lead to the transmission of viral and bacterial conjunctivitis. Allergic conjunctivitis, however, is not contagious and results from exposure to allergens like dust mites, pollen, animal dander, mold spores, or certain foods.

DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosing conjunctivitis necessitates examination by a healthcare provider due to various conditions causing eye redness. Factors considered include the onset of symptoms, discharge characteristics, presence of non-eye symptoms, itchiness, or a history of seasonal allergies. Specific signs, such as eye tenderness, difficulty seeing clearly, or recent trauma to the eye, warrant immediate evaluation by an eye specialist.

TREATMENT

Treatment depends on the cause, emphasizing the importance of an accurate diagnosis.

  1. Viral Conjunctivitis Treatment: Topical antihistamine/decongestant eye drops may alleviate irritation, but no cure exists. Symptoms may worsen initially before gradual improvement over two to three weeks.
  2. Bacterial Conjunctivitis Treatment: Typically addressed with antibiotic eye drops or ointment, providing relief within 24 to 48 hours. Proper evaluation is essential for contact lens wearers.
  3. Allergic Conjunctivitis Treatment: Managed by addressing the underlying allergen, typically through antihistamine drops or tablets.
  4. Toxic Conjunctivitis Treatment: Requires identification and removal of the offending agent.
  5. Nonspecific Conjunctivitis Treatment: Usually resolves spontaneously within a few days. Lubricants, such as drops or ointments, may expedite relief.

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PRECAUTION

How to Prevent the Spread of Conjunctivitis: Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are contagious conditions. To avoid transmitting the infection to others or reinfecting yourself, adhere to the following guidelines

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  1. Use a fresh towel or tissue every time you wipe your face and eyes.
  2. Practice frequent handwashing. Wash your hands before and after meals, after using the bathroom, and following sneezing or coughing.
  3. Refrain from touching your eyes, and if you do, promptly wash your hands.
  4. Bacteria can reside in makeup, potentially causing pink eye or a severe corneal infection. Avoid using eye makeup during an eye infection, replace your makeup if you have an eye infection, and never share eye makeup with others.
  5. Adhere to your ophthalmologist’s instructions for cleaning or replacing contact lenses. Refrain from wearing contact lenses until the conjunctivitis has completely resolved.
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