Conjunctivitis is an infection or inflammation of conjunctiva. Conjunctiva is a transparent lubricating membrane which covers the white portion of the eyeball and the inside surface of the eyelid. When there is inflammation or infection of conjunctiva, its blood vessels dilate and become more noticeable. For this reason, in conjunctivitis the eyes appear red and sore.
Together with redness and swelling, there may be associated watery discharge from the eye. The condition is popularly known as ‘pink eye’.
In most cases, the triggering factor is an allergy or an infection. Infections can be either viral or bacterial.
The condition does not affect visual acuity, though it may be extremely irritating and troublesome. But since viral conjunctivitis is contagious it should be treated urgently to restrict its spread.
What Causes Conjunctivitis?
There are number of reasons responsible for conjunctivitis such as:
- Virus: viral conjunctivitis is the commonest form of all conjunctivitis. It is highly infectious and can cause epidemics. Unhygienic environment, overcrowding, humidity all help to spread the virus. Usually it is adenovirus which is responsible for the spread. Children who have infection in one eye generally spread to the other eye with their fingers.
- Bacteria: staphylococci, streptococci, gonorrhea and chlamydia are often responsible for bacterial conjunctivitis. The source of infection can be either a close contact or it can spread from the patients skin.
- Allergy: allergy to cosmetics, contact lens solution, exposure to pollen, smokes and fumes, can cause conjunctivitis. Allergy to certain drugs can lead to swelling of conjunctiva.
- Constant strain to eyes: Working for long hours under artificial light or straining the eyes too much, can cause redness, irritation and itching in the eyes.
Symptoms And Prevention Of Conjunctivitis
The symptoms may vary according to the underlying cause; but in most cases the general symptoms are as follows:
- Redness in eyes. It can be in both the eyes or in single eye.
- Gritty and irritation in the eyelids.
- Discharge of excessive tears.
- The discharge may be thick yellow like pus and sticky or watery.
- The eyelids may stick to each other with formation of crusts after a long sleep.
- Excessive itching and burning.
- Patient may be sensitive to powerful light and prefers shade.
- Swollen eyelids.
- Allergic conjunctivitis occurring during particular period of year, as during pollen season etc.
How To Prevent Conjunctivitis?
- Always practice good hygiene: wash your hands with soap and water, especially if you handling personal belongings or if you are remaining in close contact with the person who is suffering from viral or bacterial conjunctivitis.
- Personal clothes and belongings of a person suffering from conjunctivitis should be separately washed and kept in separate bucket. They should be washed hot water and with detergent.
- Avoid sharing eye makes ups.
- Avoid touching and rubbing your eyes.
- Dispose of the tissues and eye drop containers properly to prevent contamination and spread of conjunctivitis.
- Do not cover or patch the eye as it can grow the infection.
- Change pillow case every night.
Home Remedies For Viral Conjunctivitis
- The root of Berberis asiatica is effective in treating conjunctivitis. Prepare a decoction by boiling 2 roots in a glass of water. Boil the roots until one third part of water is left. Let the prepared solution cool down. Wash your eyes with this solution.
- Extract half cup of Indian gooseberry juice from the fruit. Add one teaspoon of honey. Mix it properly. Consume it two times in a day.
- Coriander is an excellent home treatment for conjunctivitis. Prepare a decoction by boiling dried coriander leaves in 100 ml of water. Now use this water to wash your eyes. It soothes the eyes, relieves itching and burning and swelling.
- Hot compresses: for bacterial and viral conjunctivitis, soak a clean cloth in warm water and place it over the affected eye. Repeat the procedure at least two to three times.
- Cool compresses: they are beneficial when the reason is allergic conjunctivitis.
- Fennel seed: boil fennel seeds in water. Let the water cool. Strain the liquid and wash your eyes with that water. It is effective in relieving pain, soreness and itching. Besides, it hastens the healing process.