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Conjunctivitis is a swelling and irritation of the membrane that covers the white part of the eye and eyelid lining. It is often referred to as “pink eye” due to the pink color of inflamed blood vessels.

Many irritants can cause temporary conjunctivitis. Seasonal or indoor allergens, pollutants in the air, eye makeup, contact lenses, or other kinds of debris may cause irritation and inflammation. It is usually alleviated when debris or allergens are no longer present. Washing the affected eye and keeping it clean often allows enough time to heal, and symptoms should subside.

Infection Conjunctivitis

Infection conjunctivitis may be viral or bacterial. The viral type may accompany a cold, fever, sore throat, or flu. Eye redness and watery discharge are common symptoms. Staph or strep bacteria may cause bacterial conjunctivitis. It can include eye redness and discharging mucus.

Bacterial and viral pinkeye can be highly contagious and can easily be passed between people. This is often seen in children as they can contract it during play in schools or daycares. No single test or finding is adequate to make the diagnosis. A constellation of history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests are required to conclude upon a diagnosis, treatment, and management plan. However, it should be treated by an eye doctor. A doctor should also see newborns with symptoms as it’s important to diagnose and treat symptoms in young babies to ensure no vision loss occurs.

The initial external exam includes the following: ocular symptoms and signs (itching, discharge, irritation, pain, photophobia, blurred vision), duration of symptoms, exacerbating factors, unilateral or bilateral, character of discharge, recent exposure to infected individual, trauma, contact lens wear, any related systemic disease, allergy, asthma, eczema, use of topical and systemic medications, previous episodes, systemic immune status, and social history.

The initial physical exam includes the following: visual acuity, external exam (lymphadenopathy preauricular, skin, abnormalities of eyelids and adnexa, conjunctiva), and slit-lamp biomicroscopy.

Suspected infectious neonatal conjunctivitis requires cultures and smears for cytology and special stains. Confirm diagnostics of adult and neonate chlamydial conjunctivitis with immunodiagnostic test and/or culture. Biopsy required in case of ocular mucous pemphigoid and sebaceous carcinoma suspect.

Careful discrimination of prescription treatment of antibiotics or corticosteroids as indicated by diagnosis type. Treatment of mild allergic conjunctivitis with antihistamine/vasoconstrictor agent or second generation topical histamine H1-receptor antagonists. Mast-cell stabilizer treatment if recurrent or persistent. Contact lens (CL) related keratoconjunctivitis discontinue CL wear 2 or more weeks. Corticosteroid treatment when appropriate with therapeutic amount based on patient response and tolerance. Neisseria gonorrhoeae or Chlamydial trachomatis requires a prescription of systemic antibiotics. Treatment of sexual partners when conjunctivitis associated with sexually transmitted diseases and refer to appropriate medical specialist.

Follow-up evaluations are required to assess interval history, visual acuity, and progression via slit-lamp biomicroscopy examination. Any corticosteroid use requires measurement of intra-ocular pressure (IOP), and a dilated eye examination to evaluate for cataract and glaucoma (a potential side effect of long term use of corticosteroids).

Conjunctivitis is a common condition we see often at ROUSE EyeCARE CENTER. Some eye diseases are similar, so it’s important for patients to have a professional evaluation by an eye doctor to determine their specific needs and proper treatment. Treatment is different depending on the cause, but all forms of conjunctivitis need professional evaluation to ensure good eye health. In most cases, it can be successfully treated with antibiotics, eye drops, or ointments.

If you are experiencing symptoms, call us to schedule an appointment right away!