Conjunctivitis

Samruddhi Dani
Section Editor- Pediatric Ophthalmology, Pediatric Oncall
First Created: 01/04/2001  Last Updated: 12/26/2021

Patient Education

Conjunctiva is a thin transparent membrane that lines the eyeball and the inner side of the eyelid. Inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva leads to conjunctivitis.

Conjunctivitis appears as a pink eye with pain, watering, discharge and itching in the eye with swelling of the eyelids. The most common causes of conjunctivitis are:

Bacterial conjunctivitis:

It is seen as a pink eye. It affects both the eyes usually and leads to the thick yellowish discharge of mucus from both the eyes and difficulty in opening the eyes in the morning due to crusting of discharge on the eyelid margins. In children with recurrent episodes, nasolacrimal duct blockage must be ruled out.

Viral conjunctivitis:

Is a limited condition. It usually affects one eye initially and causes excessive tearing. The discharge is usually mild. It is highly contagious and can easily spread to the other eye via patient’s own hands.

Allergic conjunctivitis:

It results in severe itching along with tearing & redness in the eyes. It may sometimes be associated with a runny nose. Some patients tend to have other allergic conditions like hay fever or asthma. It is a recurrent condition and can be seasonal or perennial.

Ophthalmia neonatorum:

Is conjunctivitis in the newborn. It requires emergency care and the neonatologist (physician caring for the baby) should be consulted immediately. It has to be treated urgently to prevent permanent eye damage or blindness. It is usually caused when the infant is exposed to the germs in the mother’s birth canal. Gonococcus, C. trachomatis, and herpes virus are common causes.

Treatment

Treatment consists of maintaining eye hygiene and in case of infectious causes, preventing the condition from spreading. Each eye should be cleaned with clean, wet cotton separately moving the cotton in one direction only (either from left to right or right to left). Antibiotic eye drops are required for bacterial conjunctivitis as well as in viral conjunctivitis to prevent superinfection. Patients with viral conjunctivitis may require anti-inflammatory drugs, oral or eyedrops, especially those with corneal involvement. Allergic conjunctivitis requires anti-histamine and steroid eye drops. Some patients with recurrent allergic conjunctivitis may require long term medications. Children with recurrent allergic conjunctivitis must be advised to not rub the eyes as this can lead to keratoconus in the long run. Infants with recurrent bacterial conjunctivitis must undergo evaluation to check for blockage of the nasolacrimal duct and subsequent management. Treatment must be started in consultation with an ophthalmologist as it is important to identify the cause and treat appropriately.

Prevention

To prevent the spread of infection to the other eye (in unilateral cases) and to other people in the household, the following measures are required:

  • Do not touch your hands to the infected eye.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after instilling eye drops.
  • Do not share towels, napkins, and handkerchiefs with others.
  • Wearing glasses may decrease the chance of infection to the people around you. It mainly helps you to prevent your hands from touching your eyes and for cosmetic reasons. The child with conjunctivitis will have to be kept away from school for a few days to prevent the spread of infection to other children in school.


Conjunctivitis Conjunctivitis https://www.pediatriconcall.com/show_article/default.aspx?main_cat=pediatric-ophthalmology&sub_cat=conjunctivitis&url=conjunctivitis-patient-education 2021-12-26
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