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    Eyes, Prima Medical Center Saigon, Eyecare & Aesthetic, Eye Diseases

    Conjunctivitis: Everything You Need to Know

    12 May, 2023

    Conjunctivitis is a common eye condition that can cause a lot of discomfort for the patient. Anyone can contract this condition, especially children and the elderly. Therefore, understanding the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention is essential in helping patients cope with and prevent its recurrence. This article will provide you with all the necessary information about pink eye.

    Conjunctivitis is familiar and easy to spread

    What is conjunctivitis?

    Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is a benign condition that often occurs during hot summer days. It is an inflammation of the conjunctiva – the transparent membrane covering the eyeball’s surface. Therefore, when suffering from pink eye, patients feel very uncomfortable and tend to rub their eyes frequently. This increases the risk of infection and transmission of the disease.

    Thus, pink eye is a disease with a high risk of transmission if patients do not know how to treat and prevent it properly. Moreover, this eye disease can occur in all genders and ages. Therefore, everyone needs to clearly understand it, how to handle it, and how to prevent it from spreading to those around them.

    What is the danger of conjunctivitis?

    Causes of conjunctivitis

    • Viral conjunctivitis: This condition can be caused by various viruses, but Herpesvirus and Adenovirus are more common. Up to 80% of patients are affected by this cause. It often occurs concurrently with upper respiratory tract infections, sore throat or colds. Therefore, this type of pink eye is highly contagious when directly getting the infected person’s eye fluid.
    • Bacterial conjunctivitis: Bacterial infections such as Staphylococcus aureus, Haemophilus, Streptococcus, and Staphylococcus can cause eye infections. School-age children are the most susceptible to bacterial pink eye. If left untreated, the disease can become severe. Bacterial infections are easily transmitted through direct contact with eye fluid. The bacterial pink eye often produces a yellowish discharge.
    • Allergic conjunctivitis (dust, pet hair, pollen, medication, chemicals…) is a frequent condition, accounting for 15 – 40% of cases. However, it is difficult to determine the causes of allergens accurately. Depending on the season and each person’s constitution, allergic pink eye can persist or recur.

    Symptoms of conjunctivitis

    Symptoms of pink eye vary depending on the cause of the disease.

    Conjunctivitis is caused by viruses and bacteria

    Symptoms of viral conjunctivitis

    • Redness in one or both eyes.
    • Itching, tearing, eye fatigue, and a feeling of eye heaviness.
    • Usually accompanied by symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection such as fever, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes.
    • Symptoms of the disease usually decrease and disappear after 7 – 10 days, but in severe cases, they can cause complications such as decreased visual acuity, macular staining, and light sensitivity.

    Symptoms of bacterial conjunctivitis

    The most distinct differentiating sign from red eyes is that the patient has a lot of tears, itching, and yellow or green eye discharge sticking to both eyelids, especially when waking up in the morning. Bacterial conjunctivitis can occur in one or both eyes. The disease can progress and cause permanent visual impairment and macular ulcers.

    Symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis

    Allergic conjunctivitis usually occurs in both eyes, causing prolonged redness, tearing, and itching. The disease often appears seasonally, is prone to relapse when exposed to allergens, and is often accompanied by allergic rhinitis.

    Signs of conjunctivitis in children

    Recognizing conjunctivitis in children

    Signs of conjunctivitis in children often start with eye irritation or discomfort, a heavy or aching sensation, but not causing pain. In addition, the eyes will become red and swollen and have more tears than usual. Sometimes, the child’s eyes may be completely red or swollen, leading to blurred vision. On the other hand, if bacteria cause pink eye, the child may have pus in the eye or tears. Therefore, as soon as these signs are detected, parents should take their child to a doctor for timely examination and treatment.

    Treatment for conjunctivitis

    Conjunctivitis is a benign disease that usually resolves on its own without treatment. However, to reduce discomfort and shorten the time of illness, you should follow your doctor’s instructions for treatment. Depending on the cause of the disease, the treatment for conjunctivitis will also be different.

    For cases of conjunctivitis caused by a virus, if the symptoms are mild, the patient only needs to take care of their eyes, keep them clean and prevent infection with those around them. Using artificial tears, applying cool compresses or washing the eyes with 0.9% saline solution can help reduce discomfort. The doctor may prescribe antiviral or antibiotic medication to prevent bacterial superinfection in severe cases.

    Treatment of conjunctivitis

    Conjunctivitis caused by bacterial infection is treated with systemic antibiotics (if necessary), local antibiotics (eye drops), and anti-inflammatory medication. Patients can care for their eyes at home and treat symptoms to reduce discomfort. Allergic pink eye is improved by eliminating the allergen. Anti-allergy medication and eye drops are effective in reducing pain and redness.

    Home treatment tips for conjunctivitis

    Regardless of the cause, when you have conjunctivitis, you need to handle it properly as follows:

    • Clean your eyes at least twice daily with a damp cotton ball or tissue. Do not share eye-cleaning tools, and do not reuse towels or tissues.
    • Rest, isolate yourself, and limit contact with others. Use medication as directed by your doctor.
    • Do not share your eye drops with others, as it can cause infection through contact with the top of the bottle. Sharing can also lead to reinfection with viruses or bacteria, worsening the disease.
    • Wash your hands before cleaning your eyes, then wash them with soap or an antibacterial solution.
    • If a child has pink eye, they should stay home from school and avoid crowded places to avoid infecting others.

    Most cases of conjunctivitis are benign and can heal in 7 – 10 days without treatment. However, it is vital to seek medical attention as early as possible if there are any unusual symptoms, such as sensitivity to light, blurred vision, severe eye pain, conjunctivitis while suffering from immune deficiency or undergoing cancer treatment, having pre-existing eye conditions, or being a child or infant.

    Patients with conjunctivitis should not buy treatment medication without a doctor’s prescription, especially corticosteroids, which can cause vision loss complications.

    Conjunctivitis preventive measures

    Preventing conjunctivitis in children and adults

    Conjunctivitis is a common condition that can be prevented with some simple measures. Here are some ways to reduce the risk of getting conjunctivitis:

    • Maintain hand hygiene: This is the simplest and most effective way to prevent conjunctivitis. Bacteria and viruses can spread through hands, so wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Avoid contact with sick people: Pink eye is a contagious disease, so avoid contact with sick people or use their items, such as towels or shared beds.
    • Do not touch your eyes with your hands: Avoid touching your eyes with your hands, especially when your hands are not properly sanitized. When you want to clean your eyes, use paper or personal towels.
    • Change your diet: Diet is essential in keeping the body healthy and reducing the risk of illness. Increase the use of vitamin C and beta-carotene-rich foods to boost immunity.
    • Regularly clean your home: Bacteria and viruses can spread through the environment, so regularly clean your home, especially places that frequently come into contact with hands, such as work desks and doors.