Eye flu, also called conjunctivitis or pink eye, is a contagious eye condition that affects the conjunctiva, the thin membrane covering the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelids. Conjunctivitis can be caused by bacteria, allergens, viruses, and irritants. It is important to know the causes, symptoms, and appropriate treatment to prevent its spread and ensure prompt recovery.
Although the symptoms of pink eye can vary based on its cause, some common signs to watch out for include:
Redness: One of the most common symptoms of conjunctivitis is redness in the white part of the eye and inner eyelids. It causes the eyes to appear bloodshot and swollen.
Itching and irritation: conjunctivitis causes eyes to become itchy and irritated. It may lead to red and teary eyes very quickly.
Watery discharge: Conjunctivitis usually produces a watery mucous discharge from the eyes, mostly in viral or bacterial cases. The discharge may form a crust on the eyelashes, especially after sleeping.
Sensitivity to light: Due to this condition, many persons may experience sensitivity to light (photophobia), which can cause discomfort in bright environments.
Blurred vision: In some cases, people may witness temporary blurred vision, affecting day-to-day activities.
Causes of conjunctivitis:
Although conjunctivitis is caused mainly by viruses, bacteria, and allergens, it can also be caused by chemicals, contact lens wear, foreign bodies in the eye (like a loose eyelash) and indoor and outdoor air pollution. Here are some details of some common causes of pink eye:
Viral conjunctivitis: The most common cases of pink eye is caused by the same viruses that cause the common cold. It usually starts in one eye and then affects the other eye. Some signs and symptoms of viral conjunctivitis may include itchy eyes, tearing, redness, discharge, and light sensitivity (when corneal involvement is present).
Bacterial conjunctivitis: This condition arises due to the presence of staphylococci or streptococci bacteria. It can be transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the eyes or through direct contact with an infected person's eye discharge. Some signs and symptoms of bacterial conjunctivitis may include redness of the eye(s), excessive tearing, yellow or greenish discharge from the eyes, crusting of eyelids or lashes, and itchiness or a gritty sensation in the eyes.
Allergic conjunctivitis: It is caused due to allergic reactions to allergens that come in contact with the eyes. In response to allergens, the conjunctiva becomes inflamed and irritated in response to the allergens. Some common allergens that can trigger allergic conjunctivitis include pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds, pet dander, fur, or feathers, dust mites and mold spores.
Chemical conjunctivitis: It is a type of eye inflammation that is caused by exposure to irritating chemicals or substances such as household cleaners, chlorine, or irritants like smoke or fumes. It often results in temporary redness, irritation, and discomfort.
Diagnosis and treatment:
If an individual suspects having conjunctivitis, it is important to seek medical advice for appropriate treatment. An eye doctor (ophthalmologist) will examine the eyes and inquire about any recent exposure to allergens or infections.
If you have conjunctivitis, you can limit its spread through some preventive measures:
Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes. This can worsen the condition and raise the risk of spreading the infection.
Wash your hands frequently: Wash your hands frequently, especially before touching your eyes or applying eye drops.
Avoid sharing personal items: It is important to not share personal items like towels, eye drops, pillows, washcloths, eye or face makeup, makeup brushes, contact lenses, contact lens storage cases, or eyeglasses, with others to limit the risk of spreading the infection.
Practice proper contact lens care: Follow the recommended hygiene practices, and avoid wearing them when your eyes are infected.
Conjunctivitis, or eye flu, is a preventive eye condition that causes discomfort and affects daily activities. Understanding the different causes and symptoms of conjunctivitis is essential for its treatment. Both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis demand specific care due to their highly contagious nature. Adhering to preventive measures plays a vital role in safeguarding both yourself and others from this contagious eye infection.