Infective Conjunctivitis

This condition is the infection of the front cover or skin of the eye or the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the covering for the white portion of the eyeball and the inside lining of the eyelids. This is a very common condition and it can affect just one eye for some but it can also affect both eyes in severe cases.
The patient's eyes can become pink or red and they can experience watery or sticky sensation in their eyes because of irritation in the conjunctiva. The condition can usually go away for just a couple of days without any intervention or treatment. But it is highly advised that the patient take antibiotic eye drops or eye ointments if infective conjunctivitis is not improving. The patient who can feel minor pain in their eyes and slight blurring of their vision must see an eye specialist or a doctor because these two symptoms are not related to infective conjunctivitis.
These may be a result of other eye complications. Infective conjunctivitis in newborn babies is very different from the ‘sticky eye' syndrome which is also very common for newborn babies. Infective conjunctivitis in newborn should be consulted immediately to doctors.

Causes of Infective Conjunctivitis

  • Infection. This is a very common cause for this condition.
  • Allergy. This is also a very common for this condition and many people who are afflicted with Hay fever would have inflamed or red conjunctiva. Hay fever is a allergic reaction to pollen.
  • Irritants. Infective conjunctivitis can occur due to chemicals such if shampoo should get into your eyes or the chlorine present in swimming pools. These two chemicals can cause mild to severe irritant conjunctivitis.

Kinds of Infective Conjunctivitis

  • Common infective conjunctivitis. Infective conjunctivitis is commonly caused by bacteria and viruses – the same strains that cause colds and coughs. Cold and coughs could lead to the development of conjunctivitis or conjunctivitis can occur alone. In most cases, conjunctivitis id not severe and should subside within one week without any treatment at all. Infective conjunctivitis does not leave permanent impairment to the eyes.
  • Severe infective conjunctivitis. It is a very rare case when infective conjunctivitis can become very serious and severe.

Aside from acquiring infective conjunctivitis, keratitis or corneal infection can also occur at the same time. This case is commonly caused by herpes or cold sore virus. Keratitis causes eye pain aside from surface irritation. This can cause blurring of the patient's vision. 

A serious and prolonged case of infective conjunctivitis can also be caused by the adenovirus.

Infective conjunctivitis in newly born infants can be due to gonorrhea or chlamydia. These two bacterial strains are sexually transmitted diseases that need immediate treatment as they can affect the eyes of the baby. Chlamydia is also cause of conjunctivitis for adults. The expectant mother who has these infections should seek help immediately because it is passed on to their babies during childbirth.

Infective conjunctivitis is different from sticky eye syndrome which is also common in newborn babies. Sticky eye syndrome is a result when the tear duct is blocked. It should be noted however, that sticky eye caused by a blocked tear duct should not cause inflammation and redness of the conjunctiva. If this is the case, then see a doctor immediately.

If infective conjunctivitis is a symptom of more serious eye complications, then it can be indicated when the patient feels eye pain, blurring of the vision and swollen eyes.

Symptoms for Common Infective Conjunctivitis

The white part of the eyeballs is inflamed and has a pink or red color to them. Conjunctivitis can affect only one eye but in some cases both eyes are affected.

  • The patient would experience watery eyes or gritty than usual.
  • The pain and soreness should be very minor, not painful.
  • The eyelids could swell badly and can get stuck together by a sticky discharge during or after sleep.
  • The vision should not be affected. Blurring can occur due to the sticky discharge but this should dissipate with blinking.

Treatment for Common Infective Conjunctivitis

No treatment. Infective conjunctivitis can go away without treatment because the tears contain special chemicals that can fight off infections and other bacteria. If this is the case, conjunctivitis can go away after one or two weeks or just within a few days. If the symptoms become worse, the patient should go see a doctor immediately.

  • Washing the eyes. This can be done by using clean, cool water which can be very soothing.
  • Lubricating eye drops. These special eye drops can minimize eye discomfort and can be bought from pharmacies or by a doctor's prescription.
  • Antibiotic eye drop or eye ointment. This eye treatment can be prescribed or bought over the counter in pharmacies. This is usually advised for those who have severe conjunctivitis that do not improve without treatment. Pregnant women with conjunctivitis are prescribed with special eye drops because some products may not be suitable for their condition.

General Advice

  • Contact lenses should not be worn until all the symptoms are gone. Contact lenses should not be worn for at least twenty four hours after applying eye drops or eye ointment.
  • Sticky discharge can be cleared from the lashes and eyelids with cotton soaked in clean, cool water.
  • Remember that conjunctivitis is very contagious and is passed on by mere contact with other people. To prevent his from happening, the patient should:
    • Wash their hands regularly, especially if they have touched their eyes.
    • Sharing of personal items such as towels or pillows are not allowed.

Complications and Considerations

  • Serious infections. Infective conjunctivitis does not develop into serious complications and it does not harm the eyes and should clear itself in a matter of days or weeks. But conjunctivitis caused by chlamydia or herpes last longer than usual and is very serious. These cases should be treated immediately as it can pass on to newborn babies during childbirth. 
  • Comorbidities to other eye complications. It is often hard even for eye specialists to differentiate allergic from infective conjunctivitis as these two cases can look the same. This is the dilemma faced during hay fever season as the eyes can become red, swollen or watery in some cases. 
  • Consultation. Patients need to consult their doctors is the symptoms do not improve even after a few days. But the following situations should be cause for alarm because these symptoms are not associated to infective conjunctivitis and may indicate underlying eye complications:
    • Severe eye pain
    • Photophobia or the condition where light hurts the eyes is beginning to develop
    • Blisters or spots start to appear near the eyes
    • Vision is markedly affected
    • Newborn babies develop infective conjunctivitis.
  • Staying away from school. According to the Health Protection Agency, it is not a necessary step to exclude anyone or the child from childcare or school when they are infected with conjunctivitis. Unless an outbreak happens or if the child has a severe case of infective conjunctivitis.

Important notice