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Conjunctivitis (Red Eye) An eye, red due to acute conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis or “Red eye” is a common eye infection which is contagious and may present as a seasonal epidemic. Simple measures such as regular hand washing, avoiding crowded areas and appropriate eye medication can help prevent the spread of conjunctivitis. Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis may affect one or both eyes. Both are very contagious and cause epidemics. It can affect both adults and children. Conjunctivitis (Red eye) is an inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane (conjunctiva) that lines the eyeball that causes the eye to be swollen and makes small blood vessels in the eye become more prominent resulting in “red eye”. The cause of red eye could be due to an infection (bacterial/viral), allergy or an eye injury. As red eye caused by infection is contagious and occurs often as an epidemic, early diagnosis, treatment and hand washing can help limit its spread. Symptoms The most common symptoms of conjunctivitis include: • Redness and itchiness in one or both eyes • A gritty feeling or sandy sensation in one or both eyes • Itchiness in one or both eyes • A whitish/yellowish discharge in one or both eyes that forms a crust during the night • Watering from one or both eyes Causes Causes of red eye include: • Viruses • Bacteria • Allergies • Chemical or foreign object in the eye • A foreign object in the eye • In newborns, a blocked tear duct Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis Viral conjunctivitis usually produces a watery or mucous eye discharge and bacterial conjunctivitis often produces a thicker, yellow-green eye discharge that may be associated with a respiratory infection or with a sore throat. Allergic conjunctivitis Allergic conjunctivitis affects both eyes and is a response to an allergy-causing substance such as pollen. In response to allergens, the body releases histamine which can cause symptoms such as itching, tearing and red or pink eyes. Conjunctivitis resulting injury Irritation from a chemicals or foreign object in the eye can cause conjunctivitis. Risk factors Risk factors for red eye include: • Exposure to an allergen for allergic conjunctivitis • Exposure to someone infected with the viral or bacterial form of conjunctivitis • Accidental injury or chemical exposure • People who wear contact lenses especially long wear lenses are more prone to conjunctivitis. Newborns' eyes are susceptible to bacteria normally present in the mother's birth canal called Chlamydia which sometimes can cause a serious form of conjunctivitis in the newborn known as Ophthalmia Neonatorum which needs immediate treatment to preserve sight. Treatment • For bacterial conjunctivitis, antibiotic eye drops are used to treat the eye infection and the infection should clear within several days. Sometimes an antibiotic eye ointment may be prescribed for treating bacterial red eye in children. • Viral conjunctivitis does not respond to treatment with antibiotic eye drops or ointment. It is self limiting and may take up to two to three weeks for the infection to clear. • Allergic conjunctivitis is treated with eye drops containing antihistamines, decongestants, mast cell stabilizers, steroids or anti-inflammatory drops. It is best to avoid rubbing the eyes. Prevention The best way to control the spread of red eye caused by infection is by practising good hygiene . If you have a red eye, the following measures will help: • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap frequently and do not touch your eyes with your hands. • Change your towel, pillowcase and bed sheets often and do not share them with others. • Discard eye cosmetics particularly mascara which you have used. • Do not use someone else’ eye cosmetics or personal eye-care items. • Follow instructions for proper contact lens care. • If a child is infected, avoid close contact with other children. The Initial Stages of Pink Eye, soreness, redness and swelling Pink Eye is very contagious, and can be transferred by close contact. Common symptom of Pink Eye is swelling of the eyelid, either upper or lower. Redness of the eye developing into full blown Pink Eye. Another Symptom of Pink Eye is Excess Tears The Itchy, Burning Associated with Pink Eye Sensation of a foreign object in the Eye, rubbing and trying to remove from the eye. Inflammation is seen as reddish change in the periphery of the eye often accompanied by a pus-like discharge. Yellow discharge, often causing eyelids to stick together after sleeping. Administering eye drops to treat Pink Eye. These will commonly be anti-biotic Examination after Treatment. notice the clear eyes!!
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