Conjunctivitis: A Doctor Explains Tips To Stay Safe

Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye is a condition that’s painful and come Monsoon, hits a large part of the population every year. Ophthalmologist Rasheena Bansal breaks it down for us.

We all have heard terms like Conjunctivitis, Pink eye, Red-eye or here also commonly called as  Ankh Aana.

Now what is this pink eye and should we be really worried about it?

Is it harmful and what causes this?

What to do and what not to do when we do get the pink eye?  

Conjunctivitis or Pink eye is inflammation of the conjunctiva which is the thin transparent layer covering the outer white part of the eye and also the inner surface of lids.

The most common form is the Infectious type caused by certain bacteria and viruses.

Then you have allergies  (Allergic Conjunctivitis) caused by dust, mites and pollens and then the not-so-common –

Toxic or Chemical Conjunctivitis is caused by chemicals or irritants like chlorine in the swimming pool.  

The infective kind is contagious and can spread from one eye to the other eye and also from one person to the other. Whereas the allergic & toxic type is not contagious.  

We will be discussing the infectious type because, with the onset of monsoons, we are facing this problem more often due to increased exposure to contaminated water and increased humidity levels.  

Symptoms Of Pink/ Red Eye/Conjunctivitis?  

Symptoms may vary from redness, watering, gritty feeling or foreign body sensation in the eye with discharge. There may be difficulty in opening the eyes in the morning due to sticky discharge causing matting of eyelashes. In severe cases there may be photosensitivity to light or blurring of vision due to corneal involvement, that is the centre round transparent portion of the eyeball.  

How Does Conjunctivitis Spread?  

conjunctivitis pink eye

When one comes in contact with the discharge or secretions from the eye. You may accidentally touch your eye without washing your hands. This can happen after shaking hands with an infected person or after touching a contaminated object like door knobs, handles etc.  

How To Treat Conjunctivitis?  

It can be treated with simple eye drops like antibiotics and lubricating eye drops to soothe the eye.  The best thing to do is to visit your nearest eye doctor so that he/she can assess the cause of your red eye after a complete eye examination and treat you accordingly.  

Never take over-the-counter medications to treat your red eye as it may complicate your problem and delay the healing process. The best thing you can do is to prevent the infection and its spread.  

Measures To Prevent The Spread Of Infection  

  • Maintain hand hygiene by washing hands repeatedly  
  • Do not rub or touch your eyes unnecessarily. Even if you happen to do, wash your hands immediately. You can use goggles or protective glasses to prevent accidentally touching your eyes.  
  • If you or your child has a red eye, avoid going to school, daycare, office and common public places. Rest at home to avoid the spread of infection.  
  • If you have discharge or secretions from the eye, use disposable tissue and discard it immediately. Avoid using a handkerchief or washcloth as once used, keeping it here and there would spread the infection in your surroundings. 
  • Avoid using contact lenses and eye makeup when you have an active infection of the eye.  Discard the contacts if used at the beginning of infection and use a fresh pair of lenses after recovery.  
  • Do not share your eye drops with other family members.  
  • Do not share the same hand towel in the dining area and avoid touching the surroundings. 
  • Avoid sleeping on the same side of the bed/ sharing the pillow as the infected family member. Wash the bedsheet/ pillow covers frequently and use a fresh set after recovery to avoid re-infection.  

Conjunctivitis/ Pink eye is not a very serious condition and can be treated easily. In mild cases, it may be self-limiting but proper treatment can help in reducing the time you are contagious, have symptoms and prevent the spread of infection.

Be careful about maintaining proper hand hygiene, prevent the spread of infection and also avoid having re-infection.  

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