What is Conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis is better known as pink eye. It is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin membrane around the whites of the eyes and the inside of the eyelids. There are three major types of conjunctivitis: allergic, bacterial and viral. Additionally, there are minor conditions brought about by more specific causes.
What Causes Pink Eye?
There are three main causes of pink eye.
Allergic conjunctivitis is an allergic reaction, often caused by exposure to pollen or pet dander. A variation of this is known as giant papillary conjunctivitis. This condition occurs when there is a foreign body coming into contact with the conjunctiva, such as contact lenses or special effects lenses.
Viral conjunctivitis is caused by a viral infection, usually similar to the common cold, which has been passed through skin contact.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by a bacterial infection, also generally passed through skin contact. A more serious variation of this condition is known as ophthalmia neonatorum. This condition occurs only in newborns that have been exposed to certain venereal diseases when passing through the birth canal.
In addition, chemical conjunctivitis can occur when the eye has been exposed to chemicals, such as an excessive amount of chlorine in a swimming pool or high amounts of air pollution.
Is Pink Eye Contagious?
Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious as such, since it’s the result of airborne allergens instead of pathogens. The viral and bacterial forms of the conditions are both highly contagious and transmittable through physical contact with the skin.
What are the Symptoms of Conjunctivitis?
Pink eye symptoms have one common factor: the inflammation of the blood vessels in the conjunctiva. Beyond this, the viral and allergic forms also display symptoms of watery eyes and sometimes heightened sensitivity to light.
The bacterial form is often marked by green or yellow-green mucus discharges from the corners of the eye that can harden and seal the eyelids shut if not cleared away regularly.
How Is Conjunctivitis Diagnosed?
For individuals who suffer the condition chronically, several tests are performed. A patient history is usually the first step in order to establish when the condition first occurred and determine if there are any recurring factors for its continued appearance.
A check of the conjunctiva itself, as well as the inner structures of the eye is usually performed to get a better idea of what form of conjunctivitis is being experienced. This may also involve a visual acuity test to see if there’s been any damage to the eye.
Eye to Eye Care, an experienced Aurora eye care provider, is happy to see patients who believe they are experiencing conjunctivitis. We urge you to make an appointment if these symptoms appear and persist.