Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva. Conjunctiva is the outermost layer of the eye, a clear mucous membrane that consists of cells and underlying membrane that covers the white of the eye, also known as sclera. Conjunctivitis is also known as pink eye or madras eye, and it is distinguished by characteristic redness and tearing of the eyes, and usually occurs as a result of viral or bacterial infection but it may also appear because of an allergic reaction. The inflammation that affects the eye causes the small blood vessels to become more pronounced and that is why the eye gets its strange pinkish or red appearance.
Causes of conjunctivitis
In most cases, conjunctivitis results from viral or bacterial infection. It may affect one or both eyes and produce watery discharge. If the inflammation is caused by bacteria, the discharge from the eyes may even be thick and yellow or green in appearance.
Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are very contagious and they are easily spread from an infected person to other individuals in their surroundings. Typically, viral and bacterial conjunctivitis first affect one eye but they are easily spread to the other one. In most cases, the first signs of the disease are becoming obvious three days after the initial infection.
Allergic conjunctivitis generally affects both eyes and emerges as a reaction to certain type of allergens. When a person sensitive to an allergen comes into the contact with the allergy-causing substance, the body produces an antibody that triggers the cells in the conjunctiva to release inflammatory substances. Pink eyes occur as a result of this inflammation.
In rare cases, conjunctivitis occurs as an effect of chemical irritation or because of the presence of a foreign object in the eye. This type of irritation typically resolves within a day or two.Signs and symptoms of conjunctivitis
Conjunctivitis is distinguished by redness in one or both eyes, typically accompanied with itching and a feeling there is a small foreign object inside of the eye. Usually, there is a discharge that forms a crust during the night and the eyes are excessively tearing. Since it is a highly contagious disease, it is important to seek medical help and start with a timely treatment.
Treatment for conjunctivitis
Depending on what causes the disease doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or a topical ointment. There is no treatment for viral conjunctivitis but it typically resolves in up to two or three weeks. For irritations and allergies doctors normally prescribe special eye drops.