This guide outlines how to fix pink eye conjunctivitis and avoid it coming back to bother you.
Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva (the white of the eyes). The first signs and symptoms are redness in the white part of the eyes, itching or “itching”, tearing, sensitivity to light, among others that may vary according to the conjunctivitis present. The different types of conjunctivitis vary according to the pathogen involved, as we will see in detail below.
The conjunctiva is the transparent and thin membrane that covers the front of the eyeball (the white of the eyes) and the inside of the eyelids. The main function of the conjunctiva is to protect the eye from the external aggressions of the environment, causing an inflammatory defensive reaction.
How to fix pink eye: overview
Usually, conjunctivitis lasts from one week to 15 days, and the duration may vary according to the type of conjunctivitis present and does not usually leave sequelae. It can be acute or chronic and affect only one eye (left or right) or both usually affect both (bilateral).
From a clinical point of view, conjunctivitis can be classified according to different criteria: acute, sub-acute and chronic conjunctivitis (according to its initial form and its evolution over time). Serous, mucosal, purulent and pseudomembranous conjunctivitis (according to the secretion that is produced). Follicular, papillary, flictenular and giant papillary conjunctivitis (according to the structural changes of the mucosa itself, that is, by the tissue reaction). Blepharoconjunctivitis, keratoconjunctivitis (depending on how they affect, at the same time, the ocular structures of the neighborhood).
Conjunctivitis can also be classified according to the infectious (bacteria, virus, fungi, or protozoa) and non-infecal (allergy, mechanical, chemical or radiation) causal microbial agent.
How to fix pink eye: causes
The causes of pink eye can be of various kinds, the most common being infection caused by various types of pathogens. These agents are mainly bacteria, but they can also be viruses and fungi, the first two being the most frequent agents in the cause of conjunctivitis.
Conjunctivitis can also be caused by chemical and physical agents of various kinds, such as foreign bodies, intense heat, irritating gases, ultraviolet rays, caustic products, fumes, among others.
Some vision problems, such as refractive errors (myopia, astigmatism, hyperopia) if they do not have an adequate correction, can also cause conjunctivitis, since they can trigger an excessive effort of the ocular apparatus and consequently cause inflammation of the conjunctiva.
How to fix pink eye: symptoms
The symptoms of conjunctivitis vary according to the type of conjunctivitis but are the first things to look at when you want to know how to fix pink eye. However, regardless of the type of causative agent, patients usually have the same type of signs and symptoms.
In conjunctivitis, the most frequent initial symptoms are itching, tearing or watery eyes (abundant tears) and photophobia (sensitivity to light).
The most obvious sign is the redness in the white part of the eye (red eyes). This redness is caused by the dilation of the blood vessels of the conjunctiva and sometimes accompanied by edema surrounding the cornea (chemosis).
Usually, the eyelids also turn red and swollen (swollen eyelids), both on their inner face and on the extremities. Another of the symptoms of frequent conjunctivitis is photophobia (sensitivity to light) in cases where the inflammation is more intense, irritated eyes, itching and sometimes eye pain. Conjunctivitis is not associated with fever.
It is also very common to produce secretions, whose characteristics vary depending on the cause of conjunctivitis. See more information on each of the types of conjunctivitis.
How to fix pink eye: Treatment
The treatment of pink eye is determined by the causative agent of the disease. The medication or medicine to be used to cure conjunctivitis vary according to the agent responsible for the inflammation (viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc.).
If conjunctivitis is caused by a virus, the treatment is carried out by applying corticosteroid eye drops and artificial tears. In the case of conjunctivitis caused by bacteria, antibiotic eye drops are used that should be prescribed by the ophthalmologist, since some eye drops are contraindicated and can cause serious complications and aggravate the disease.
Conjunctivitis caused by chemical or physical agents usually evolves favorably and usually disappears after a few days without treatment, unless complications arise.
Usually, the treatment in how to fix pink eye conjunctivitis is effective in all cases, and there are not many complications, however, they are possible in certain situations. One of the complications of conjunctivitis occurs when corneal infection (keratitis) occurs. The treatment of keratitis is also carried out with antibiotic eye drops.
See more information on how to treat conjunctivitis, in each of the types of conjunctivitis, according to the causative agent.
Is pink eye conjunctivitis contagious?
Yes, conjunctivitis is contagious. Contagion or transmission of conjunctivitis is understood as the way the disease passes from one eye to the other, from person to person or through contaminated objects. That is, the contagion of conjunctivitis can be caused by direct contact or through another type of contaminated object, such as towels or handkerchiefs, for example.
In many cases, it is the patient himself who infects the other eye, transporting the infection from one eye to the other. Therefore, it is quite common to see both eyes affected with conjunctivitis (two eyes affected).
Types of conjunctivitis
The different types of conjunctivitis vary according to the pathogen that causes the disease.
Viral or viral conjunctivitis
Viral or viral conjunctivitis is a type of conjunctivitis caused by a virus. The evolution of viral conjunctivitis is specific according to the causative microorganism. Often, inflammation of the conjunctiva only constitutes a manifestation of an infection such as influenza, rubella or measles, in this case the evolution of conjunctivitis accompanies the development of the infection that gave rise to it. The diagnosis is usually clinical.
Adenoviruses usually cause airway infection and are one of the most frequent agents causing viral or viral conjunctivitis (adenoviral conjunctivitis).
The symptoms of viral conjunctivitis are several, among them tearing, red eye, foreign body sensation, photophobia and eyelid edema. See more information on symptoms of conjunctivitis.
In viral conjunctivitis, transmission can be made by direct contact or through another type of contaminated object, such as towels or handkerchiefs, for example. In many cases, it is the patient himself who infects the other eye, transporting the infection from one eye to the other.
The treatment is carried out with eye drops of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and in the most intense or severe forms the treatment should be carried out with corticosteroids. Artificial tears are usually associated, in order to increase eye comfort. The treatment should be performed as long as the symptomatology usually lasts between 8 and 15 days.
Viral conjunctivitis lasts on average between 8 and 15 days, and may in some cases have a longer duration, that is, it is never possible to predict exactly how many days conjunctivitis will last.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is a type of conjunctivitis caused by bacteria. It is an inflammatory process of the bulbar or tarsal conjunctiva, caused by a bacterial agent, which can be uni or bilateral. It is a frequent, self-limited, benign entity and occasionally can be severe. Its causes are golden staphylococcus, streptococcus pneumoniae, hemofilus influenza and chlamydia.
Bacterial conjunctivitis usually presents the first symptoms a few hours after contagion. Often, the infection affects only one of the eyes but, as a general rule, it simultaneously affects both eyes (bilateral bacterial conjunctivitis). The symptoms of bacterial conjunctivitis are commonly the following: burning or “feeling of sand in the eyes”, photophobia (sensitivity to light), low vision (decreased vision) and purulent secretions (push).
In bacterial conjunctivitis the secretion is mucopurulent (mucopurulent conjunctivitis), yellowish and very thick, adhering to the eyelids in such a way that it is sometimes difficult to extract them.
The transmission or contagion of bacterial conjunctivitis can be carried out through contact with the secretions of the contaminated patient. As long as the infected person has symptoms, transmission of the disease may occur.
In bacterial conjunctivitis, the treatment involves the use of antibiotic eye drops, anti-inflammatory and to give more comfort can be associated with artificial tears.
The treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis should be carried out as long as there are symptoms, for one to two weeks. Bacterial conjunctivitis, if left untreated, can remain for 10 to 14 days, and this duration may be substantially reduced, with appropriate treatment.
Trachoma is a chronic, bilateral conjunctivitis of an infectious nature caused by the bacterium Clamídea Trachomatis. This disease is quite frequent in Eastern Europe, Africa, China and India, usually having very serious consequences (blindness), since its evolution is very prolonged and can lead to complications in vision, because the infection can spread to the eyelids and cornea, causing a reaction that can cause deformations in the eyelids and opacification of the cornea. It has slow evolution and transmission is related to poor hygiene (hands, water and flies).
The diagnosis of trachoma is essentially clinical: follicles, papillary hyperplasia, conjunctival scar, trichiasis and corneal opacities.
Early treatment of this type of conjunctivitis through the use of antibiotics is usually effective, avoiding serious sequelae. In the absence of timely and effective treatment, trachoma is an important cause of blindness in the world.
Allergic conjunctivitis occurs when certain allergies trigger inflammation of the conjunctiva, such as the one that happens with some substances that are usually harmless, such as pollen, dandruff, certain cosmetics, among others, can cause, in sensitive people, an abnormal response of the immune system.
Pollen allergy often causes simultaneous inflammation of the conjunctiva and nose, called rhinoconjunctivitis or hay fever.
Allergic conjunctivitis usually manifests itself during the time of pollination of the responsible plant and are important for its frequency, chronicity and clinic. They are caused by a hypersensitivity mechanism mediated by Ig E.
Spring conjunctivitis also known as seasonal conjunctivitis is associated with nasal and pharyngeal complaints and the usual triggering allergen is pollen. There is mild to moderate brumosis, pink hyperemia of the conjunctiva, mild papillary hypertrophy and eyelid edema. Patients usually complain of slight ocular and peri-ocular pruritus, burning sensation and aqueous conjunctival secretion.
Symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis may be seasonal and may include tearing, itching, photophobia (sensitivity to light), burning or “feeling of sand in the eyes” and aqueous secretions.
In allergic conjunctivitis, the treatment involves avoiding what causes the allergy. It may be impossible to avoid all its triggers, however, sometimes measures can be taken to reduce your exposure to dust, pollen, mites, etc.
Some eye drops for allergic conjunctivitis as lubricants can help reduce symptoms. Applying cold wet compresses to the eyes is an important form of “home or natural treatment”, which is good for relieving the discomfort caused by inflammation. Oral antihistamines can offer greater relief, although they can cause dry eye.
Treatment should always be monitored by an ophthalmologist, which may include: antihistamines and anti-inflammatories. Steroid eye drops can be used in the most severe forms.
Pregnancy, babies and children
Conjunctivitis in pregnancy
Conjunctivitis in pregnancy, even in the first trimester of pregnancy, should be treated in the same way as any other patient, since the absorption by the cornea of all eye drops, usually used, has little significance at the systemic level.
Conjunctivitis in a baby or child
We call it infantile conjunctivitis when the disease affects children. The symptoms and treatment of conjunctivitis in children, from the first months of life to adolescence, are at all similar to the adult. See more information on conjunctivitis treatment.
In conjunctivitis in babies, conjunctivitis in newborns or neonatal conjunctivitis, infection occurs at the time of the baby passes through the vaginal canal infected by microorganisms, such as gonococci or chlamydia. In this case, conjunctivitis has a very aggressive evolution, which can lead to the destruction of ocular structures and cause irreversible blindness.
This situation is so dangerous that, in several countries, as a form of prevention, it is customary to systematically use silver nitrate drops or an antibiotic eye drops in the eyes of newborns. In fact, the use of this preventive procedure has considerably minimized the incidence of the problem in the countries where it is carried out.
Gonococcal conjunctivitis or conjunctivitis of the newborn is a purulent bilateral conjunctivitis that occurs within the first two weeks in the baby (first month of life), caused by N. Gonorreia, C. Trachomatis, E. Aureus, E. Pneumoniae, H. Influenza and toxic such as silver nitrate.
Gonococcal conjunctivitis is severe, due to the absence of immunity of the newborn baby and the immaturity of the ocular surface (absence of lymphoid tissue and scarce tear film).
Clinically, bilateral eyelid edema (severe in gonococcal infections) is very common. Initially, the secretions are sero-bloody and, later, muco-purulent. There is also a papillary conjunctival reaction and brumosis, and pseudo-membranes may be associated.
In gonococcal conjunctivitis by N. Gonorrhea the following complications can be verified: corneal ulcer and corneal perforations.
How to fix pink eye: avoidance
Special hygiene care helps to control contagion and to prevent or attenuate the evolution of conjunctivitis, when it exists. Whatever the case, it is essential to wash your eyes and put compresses with filtered and boiled cold water or with saline.
The eyes in contact with the water in the pools can contract conjunctivitis, due to the presence of two agents: on the one hand, it can be fomented by irritating substances, such as chlorine, on the other hand, the agent can be infectious. However, not all people react in the same way to these aggressive agents, that is, there are people who have conjunctivitis, practically every time their eyes contact with the pool water, and in these cases it is recommended to use protective glasses, others, however, do not present any problem, even if they use the pools quite regularly.
During bacterial conjunctivitis, people should not use the pools in order to avoid water contamination.
As a complement to the treatment of conjunctivitis or its prevention, there are numerous recommendations that must be followed, namely:
- Keep your eyes dry and clean;
- Avoid crowds or frequent public swimming pools;
- Frequently wash your face and hands, since these are important vehicles for the contagion of pathogenic microorganisms;
- Avoid hugs, kisses and hand greetings with infected people;
- Do not rub your eyes;
- Wash towels, sheets and pillowcases daily, washing them separately;
- Change the pillowcases daily, as long as the crisis persists;
- Do not share the use of pencils, mascara, eyeliners or any other makeup or beauty product;
- Don’t self-medicate.
Photo by Amir SeilSepour