Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD.
DiagnosisConjunctivitis is an
inflammatory condition of the outer lining of the eye in which the outer part of
the eye becomes red and irritated. Often there is an associated discharge.
Common causes of conjunctivitis are viral, bacterial, and allergic. Most cases
of viral conjunctivitis are caused by the same “cold virus” that
causes a common cold, but instead of the virus infecting the mucous membrane
lining of the nose and throat, it infects the mucous membrane lining of the eye.
Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious through direct contact with the tears.
It is diagnosed by examination. Bacterial conjunctivitis can be caused by a
number of infectious organisms. It is diagnosed by examination and by obtaining
a culturespecimen. It is transmitted by direct contact and can be treated with
antibiotics. Allergic conjunctivitis produces a red, irritated eye that itches.
The itching is the clinical sign that allows for the diagnosis of allergic
conjunctivitis.Living with Your
DiagnosisConjunctivitis produces a
red, irritated eye with either a watery discharge (allergic and viral) or a
mucopurulent discharge (bacterial). Conjunctivitis causes local discomfort and
irritation. Serious sight-threatening consequences are extremely
conjunctivitis is treated symptomatically. Just as there is no
“cure” for a common cold, there is no “cure” for viral
conjunctivitis. Cool compresses often relieve the associated itching and
burning. Topical decongestant drops can also provide relief. Allergic
conjunctivitis can be treated with systemic (oral) allergy medications or
topical eye drops specifically designed for allergic conjunctivitis. Bacterial
conjunctivitis is treated with topical antibiotic eye drops. Although eye drops
can cause local stinging and irritation, there are no significant side effects
or complications associated with treatment of conjunctivitis.
DOs• Medications should be used
as directed. If using more than one eye drop, wait five minutes between
instilling each drop so that the second drop does not “wash” the
first drop out.• Patients with
conjunctivitis should wash their hands frequently to avoid transmitting their
infection to the other eye, as well as to friends and family
DON’Ts• Patients with
conjunctivitis should avoid touching their eyes and should not share towels,
pillow cases, and other personal belongings with others, because the infection
can be transmitted this way.When To
Call Your DoctorIf your conjunctivitis
is associated with:• severe pain,
fever or blurred