It is often said that the eyes are the windows of the soul. Most people often remark about how it’s a person’s eyes that catch their attention the most, and it’s no wonder why. Eyes are one of the most expressive parts of your face. In paintings, the eyes are usually the parts that are meticulously detailed by the painter. Eyes can convey feelings even if your face is a solid mask of blankness. When your eyes are afflicted by a disease, then, it is to your benefit that you will know what to do. Otherwise, the windows of your soul will be blocked by ugly curtains
The Eyes Have It
One of those “ugly curtains” is the infection known as conjunctivitis. Commonly known as “pink eye” or “red eye”, conjunctivitis is an infection of the conjunctiva, the part of the eye that is in the innermost surface of the eyelid, and the outermost layer of the eye.
Those suffering from conjunctivitis usually exhibit the following symptoms:
- Redness in the affected eye or eyes.
- Itchiness in one or both of the eyes. Acute allergic conjunctivitis, typically, is sometimes distressingly so, and there might be some swelling on the eyelid.
- A gritty feeling in the eyes. Typically, this is most common in bacterial conjunctivitis.
- A stringy, gray or yellowish discharge that is almost always opaque. The discharge may oftentimes cause the eyelids to stick together and crusts, usually during the night. Again, this is most typical to bacterial conjunctivitis.
Pain can be present, although it is usually mild. A better description would be a burning sensation in the eyes. The only time where severe pain may be experienced is when the patient has irritant or toxic conjunctivitis, when the infected eye or eyes are pointed far up or down.
The most common types of conjunctivitis are allergic reactions and/or infections (both bacterial and viral). They are categorized by their causes.
- Allergic conjunctivitis affects both eyes. It is usually the body’s response to an allergen such as a pollen, or dust. The body produces an antibody, the immunoglobulin (IgE), which triggers special cells called mast cells in the airways and mucous lining of your eyes. Inflammatory substances, such as histamines, are then released that produce several allergy signs, including red eyes.
- Conjunctivitis caused by infections, on the other hand, may affect one or both of your eyes. Bacterial conjunctivitis may produce a thick, yellow-green discharge while viral conjunctivitis produces a watery or mucous one. Both can be associated with colds. Both are also very contagious.
Each of the types require a somewhat different treatment.
Getting Rid of Conjunctivitis
Depending on your conjunctivitis, there are several things you can do to ease or eliminate the infection. There are also general things you can do that are applicable to all types.
- Use antibacterial medications. If you have antibacterial conjunctivitis, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic eye drop or ointment to you that covers a wide range of bacteria. You should see an improvement within two to three days, if not sooner. In order to prevent the recurrence of the infection, be sure to follow your doctor’s advice on how long to use it.
- Use compresses and artificial tears. For viral conjunctivitis, it is advised that you use a cool or warm compress to alleviate the symptoms, as well as artificial tears found in most pharmacies. Since there really is no medication to completely kill viruses, you may just have to let the viral infection run its course. If the condition is worse, your doctor may suggest a topical corticosteroid medication. It usually takes three weeks for a viral conjunctivitis to clear.
- Don’t rub your eyes. Sure, conjunctivitis is usually itchy. However, rubbing your eyes may worsen the condition, especially if it’s an allergic conjunctivitis, since doing so will produce more histamines. You can also use antihistamine eye drops to soothe your eyes.
- Don’t wear contacts. Avoid putting anything in your eyes during the duration of your condition, including contact lenses. They may contain other bacteria that will worsen your condition. They may also irritate your already irritated eyes. Thirdly, doing so may increase the chance of spreading the infection.
Prevention and Notes
Since conjunctivitis can be contagious (the viral and bacterial ones, at least), it is imperative that if you’re suffering from it, you must practice proper hygiene. Here are several things you can do to contain and prevent getting the infection.
- Stay away from allergens. The best way to not get allergic conjunctivitis is to stay away from the allergens that may cause it. Identify the things that trigger your allergy and avoid them. You can do this through the process of elimination. Most times, you’ll be allergic to certain things, and these allergies usually manifest in many forms, not just conjunctivitis. Think back about your past allergic reactions and try to see what could have caused them. Then stay away.
- Don’t touch your eyes. Touching your eyes means you risk spreading the infection when you touch common household items like doorknobs, keyboards, or other things.
- Don’t share your items. Items like towels or washcloths shouldn’t be shared to minimize the risk of spreading the infection. Change them daily, too.
- Wash your hands thoroughly. You can pick up hundreds of bacteria everyday just by touching the handrails of a building, receiving things from people, or simply touching an individual. Washing your hands thoroughly and regularly will eliminate most of these bacteria, especially if you’re using an antibacterial soap.
With these tips, you will decrease your chance of getting conjunctivitis. Sure, the infection might not be life-threatening, but it is far from being comfortable. Be hygienic, above all, and you should have no problems avoiding the infection.
Click here for more information on how to get rid of conjunctivitis.