Conjunctivitis or pink eye means infection of the conjunctiva, which is the thin transparent layer that covers the white of the eye and the inner layer of the eyelids. Now the causes for conjunctivitis can include viral, bacterial, allergic, chemical sprays or foreign body or it could be a blocked tear duct. Now, in viral conjunctivitis, we can see that it usually affects one eye but it can affect both the eyes and the discharge is usually clear and you can have other associated symptoms like runny nose, cough or low-grade fever. Now, when it is bacterial, we usually see that it affects both eyes, it can involve just one eye and the discharge can be thick yellowish-green and profuse. Now, in terms of allergic, the discharge is usually transparent and is a clear stringy type of discharge and it is associated with itching and tearing in the eyes. It can be seasonal or it can be present through the year, which we refer to as perineal, depending on the allergen. If accidental spraying of chemicals or lodging of fine objects, including eyelash, into the eye can cause redness and tearing and lead to conjunctivitis. In case of infants, a blocked tear duct can cause tearing and discharge from the eye. This discharge can get secondarily infected and the discharge may turn yellowish green at that point.
In terms of symptoms, there can be redness in the affected eye and the discharge from the eye can range anywhere from being clear to yellow-green like I just discussed. Matting of the eyelashes from the discharge can cause the eyelids to be stuck together upon waking up from sleep. Itchiness and discomfort in the eyes may be present. There may be some tearing from the eye and some amount of sensitivity to light may be present. Now, in terms of management, it is a highly contagious condition and requires medical attention as soon as possible. You may apply a cold compress to the eyes and use artificial tear drops initially, till you go in to see your doctor. Bacterial conjunctivitis will require to use antibiotic eye drops or eye ointment. Viral conjunctivitis usually resolve on its own but, most of the time, since it doesn’t present too differently from bacterial conjunctivitis, you will be prescribed antibiotic eye drops. An allergic conjunctivitis will require anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory eye drops and definitely avoiding the irritant, is a good idea. In case of a blocked tear duct, it is advised to do a gentle circular massage in the prominence that you see on the skin, in the inner angle of the eye. Do it for about a minute everyday and at any point if the discharge from the eye turns yellowish-green, an antibiotic eye drop is a good idea to use.
This is a very contagious eye condition and is spread by contact with the infected discharge. So, you need to keep your kids away from school and the pools till the discharge completely resolves. Thorough hand washing that of yours and your child’s is very important. Avoid touching and rubbing the infected eye. Use disposable tissues or moistened tiny cotton balls to wipe off the eye discharge and it needs to be disposed off immediately, followed by hand washing. Use the prescribed medicine until you complete the prescribed course, so as to ensure complete recovery.
You have to take your child to the emergency room if any of the following worrying signs should present along with the pink eye. These symptoms include high fever, headache or vomiting. Severe eye pain, if there is redness involving the area around the eye, if there are any visual disturbances or if the child is unable to open the eye due to intense pricking sensation or pain following an accidental spray of chemical or foreign body, or an injury to the eye.
Team Ovum Hospitals