08 Jun Conjunctivitis
Conjunctivitis & Inflamed Eye Infections
This commonly used, yet often misunderstood term is an inflammation of the conjunctiva layer, commonly referred to as pink eye.
The conjunctiva is a clear outer layer that begins on the inner lid margin (of the upper and lower lids), travels the length of the inner lids to the eye ball and then envelopes back on the eyeball to end at the cornea at the front of the eye. Here we recommend some effective treatments, lid hygiene, antibacterial washes etc
When you blink the conjunctiva layer, lining the lids, slides over the conjunctiva layer covering the front of the eyeball. So this should help you understand, when the conjunctiva is inflamed every time you blink the two inflamed surfaces pass over each other. They are usually quite dry because of the inflammation and the movement causes further irritation and discomfort.
But what causes this tissue to inflame?
As with most medical problems, there can be many reasons, but to summarize:
- Viral infections
- Bacterial infections
- Allergic reactions
- Trauma events/irritants
As you may know, it is not possible to cure viral conjunctivitis. This type of conjunctivitis is associated with the cold or flue adenovirus.
The symptoms are a pink, swollen, glassy appearance. It can affect both eyes, or only one. This is a high contagious infection and very common in young children in play groups where is spreads very quickly.
Bacterial conjunctivitis differs from viral in that it is generally pus forming. Patients describe “sleep” in their eye and a sticky feeling. Usually the eye is more red and injected looking.
There are many bacteria that cause this type of conjunctivitis, and contrary to popular belief, Brolene eye drops do not cure all bacterial infections! A much more effective remedy is to cleans the eye lids with a solution like Blephasol which removes the causative bacteria and allows the eyes to recover. Add a few drops of the solution to some cotton wool and wash the lids with Blephasol, using a separate piece of cotton wool for each eye. Wash hands after cleaning the lids.
Allergic conjunctivitis is, as it’s name suggests, caused by an allergen such as pollen and is more easily distinguishable by the itchy, watery pink eye. Typically all the other hay fever type symptoms will be present.
Not so typical are allergic reactions from preservatives within eye drops themselves. It is not uncommon for a patient using an antibiotic eye drop to treat a bacterial conjunctivitis, to return with an allergic conjunctivitis due to an allergic reaction to the preservative within the antibiotic eye drop!
Allergic reactions can occur from exposure to any chemical toxic to the eye, or anything physical within the eye, e.g. contact lenses.
This is closely aligned to the traumatic causes of conjunctivitis, where something enters the eye to physically damage this wafer thin tissue.
An easy way to make a general distinction between the types of conjunctivitis:
Viral conjunctivitis has a light red, watery eye, often teamed with light sensitivity.
Bacterial conjunctivitis has a mucky, sticky eye that is gritty and uncomfortable.
Allergic conjunctivitis has a swollen, watery, itchy eye.
Chemical and traumatic induced conjunctivitis are painful and the sufferer has great difficulty keeping the injured eye open.