You probably experienced pink eye in your school days. Now your children may come running to you with those oh so familiar bloodshot eyes. This common condition is known as conjunctivitis. The following is a discussion about its causes and best treatment methods.
What is conjunctivitis?
It is inflammation of the tissue that lines the underside of your top and bottom eyelids. The inflammation can be present for varying amounts of time. The three most common types are: bacterial, viral, or allergic conjunctivitis.
What are some symptoms?
When suspecting conjunctivitis, always consider if one or both eyes are affected. Unilateral (affecting one eye) conjunctivitis is more indicative of bacterial origins because bacteria is transmissible by the hand. Allergic and viral conjunctivitis usually present in both eyes because it is a reaction to allergens or viral particles in the air. Itching is most associated with allergic conjunctivitis. Viral and allergic conjunctivitis have more watery discharge while bacterial conjunctivitis has a more matted, pus-like appearance.
Always remember, you should not experience pain, sensitivity to light/blurred vision, or a large amount of purulent discharge. If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your optometrist or ophthalmologist as soon as possible to rule out other conditions.
So how do you treat it?
Treatment depends on the type of conjunctivitis you have. Bacterial conjunctivitis is often treated with antibiotic eye drops. It is important to not touch your face during this time as this can prolong the infection or spread the bacteria to the other eye. It is important to notify your physician anytime your infection rapidly worsens. Viral conjunctivitis is usually self-limiting. Your doctor may recommend cold compresses or artificial tears to minimize irritation. The infection usually resolves in a week’s time. Again, remember to not touch your face as this can spread the virus to those around you. Allergic conjunctivitis is usually characterized by extreme itching. Steroids or antihistamine drops are commonly used to control symptoms. Always remember, seek the advice of your local primary care doctor or eye doctor to rule out any serious issues.
Dr. Chitturi is a resident physician who sees patients of all ages and provides obstetrical services at Lone Star Family Health Center, a non-profit 501©3 Federally Qualified Health Center operating facilities in Conroe, Spring, Willis, Grangerland, and Huntsville, and serving as home to a fully integrated Family Medicine Residency Program to increase the number of Family Medicine physicians for Texas and our community