Red eye (conjunctivitis)

Eyes | Ophthalmology | Red eye (conjunctivitis) (Disease)


Conjunctivitis (also called pink eye or madras eye) is inflammation of the conjunctiva (the outermost layer of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids). Signs and symptoms include: red eye ( hyperaemia ), irritation and watering of the eyes are symptoms common to all forms of conjunctivitis. However, the pupils should be normally reactive and the visual acuity normal. Depending on the nature, there are: viral, bacterial, chemical etc conjunctivitis.

Causes and Risk factors

Conjunctivitis is most commonly due to an infection (usually viral, but sometimes bacterial) or an allergic reaction. Conjunctivitis is most commonly caused by viral infection, but bacterial infections, allergies, other irritants and dryness are also common etiologies for its occurrence. Both bacterial and viral infections are contagious. Commonly, conjunctival infections are passed from person-to-person, but can also spread through contaminated objects or water.

The most common cause of viral conjunctivitis is adenoviruses. Herpetic keratoconjunctivitis (caused by herpes simplex viruses) can be serious. Acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis is a highly contagious disease caused by one of two enteroviruses.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If the infection is bacterial, the doctor may prescribe antibiotic eyedrops as pink eye treatment, and the infection should go away within several days. Antibiotic eye ointment, in place of eyedrops, is sometimes prescribed for treating bacterial pink eye in children. An ointment is often easier to administer to an infant or young child than are eyedrops, though the ointment may blur vision for up to 20 minutes after application. With either form of medication, expect signs and symptoms to start getting better in a few days.

There is no treatment for most cases of viral conjunctivitis. Instead, the virus needs time to run its course — up to two or three weeks. Viral conjunctivitis often begins in one eye and then infects the other eye within a few days.

If the irritation is allergic conjunctivitis, the doctor may prescribe one of many different types of eyedrops for people with allergies. These may include medications that help control allergic reactions, such as antihistamines and mast cell stabilizers, or drugs that help control inflammation, such as decongestants, steroids and anti-inflammatory drops. ...