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Acute Conjunctivitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Acute conjunctivitis is an acute inflammation of the conjunctiva, the transparent membrane covering the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids. This article provides essential information about acute conjunctivitis, including its causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention. Read on to learn more.

1. Causes of Acute Conjunctivitis

Acute conjunctivitis is primarily caused by viruses or bacteria. Here are the main causes:

1.1. Viruses

– Adenovirus: The most common viral cause of conjunctivitis. It spreads through contact with respiratory or eye secretions from an infected person.

– Influenza Virus: Can cause conjunctivitis, primarily spreading through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

– Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-1): This virus can cause conjunctivitis, spreading through direct contact with cold sores or eye secretions.

Causes of Acute Conjunctivitis

Adenovirus spreads through contact with eye or respiratory secretions from an infected person.

1.2. Bacteria

– Staphylococcus aureus: The most common bacterial cause of conjunctivitis, spreading through contact with eye or skin secretions.

– Streptococcus pneumoniae: Can cause conjunctivitis, spreading through contact with throat or skin secretions.

– Neisseria gonorrhoeae: Particularly in newborns, this bacteria can cause conjunctivitis, spreading through sexual contact or from mother to child during birth.

1.3. Allergies

– Pollen: The most common cause of allergic conjunctivitis.

– Dust: Another common allergen causing conjunctivitis.

– Animal Dander: Can cause allergic conjunctivitis in sensitive individuals.

Allergic conjunctivitis occurs only in those with an allergic predisposition and is not contagious. It cannot be completely cured but can be managed.

1.4. Irritants

– Tobacco Smoke: Can cause conjunctivitis in sensitive individuals.

– Chemicals: Exposure to certain chemicals can lead to conjunctivitis.

1.5. Other Factors

Several other factors can increase the risk of conjunctivitis:

– Contact Lenses: Wearing contact lenses can increase the risk of conjunctivitis due to the accumulation of bacteria and viruses.

– Other Eye Conditions: Conditions like dry eye and keratitis can raise the risk of conjunctivitis.

– Weakened Immune System: Conditions like AIDS or the use of immunosuppressive drugs can increase the risk of viral or bacterial conjunctivitis.

2. Symptoms of Acute Conjunctivitis

Common symptoms of acute conjunctivitis include:

– Red Eyes: The most prevalent symptom, with redness in the white part of the eye or eyelids.

– Itching: Ranges from mild to severe, prompting the urge to rub the eyes.

– Tearing: Increased tear production is common.

– Discharge: Sticky discharge, particularly noticeable in the morning.

– Foreign Body Sensation: Feeling like something is in the eye.

– Swollen Eyelids: Mild swelling of the eyelids.

– Light Sensitivity: Discomfort in bright light.

In some cases, conjunctivitis may also cause yellow or green pus, blurred vision, and swollen lymph nodes.

Symptoms of Acute Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis symptoms include redness in the white part of the eye or the eyelids.

3. Complications of Acute Conjunctivitis

While generally benign, untreated or improperly treated conjunctivitis can lead to severe complications:

– Keratitis: Inflammation of the cornea, causing eye pain, redness, tearing, light sensitivity, and vision impairment.

– Corneal Ulcers: Painful sores on the cornea that can lead to severe eye pain, redness, tearing, light sensitivity, and vision loss. If untreated, corneal ulcers can cause corneal perforation and blindness.

– Corneal Scarring: Scarring from keratitis or corneal ulcers can impair vision and cause light sensitivity.

4. Treatment of Acute Conjunctivitis

Do not self-medicate. If you have symptoms such as swollen eyelids, pus discharge, or vision loss, consult an ophthalmologist immediately for appropriate treatment. Treatment depends on the cause:

4.1. Viral Conjunctivitis

Most viral conjunctivitis cases resolve on their own within 7-10 days. There is no specific antiviral treatment, but symptomatic relief can be achieved with:

– Anti-Itch Eye Drops: Such as ketotifen or naphazoline.

– Redness-Reducing Eye Drops: Such as tetrahydrozoline or naphazoline.

4.2. Bacterial Conjunctivitis

Bacterial conjunctivitis is typically treated with topical antibiotics. Common antibiotics include tobramycin, gentamicin, ciprofloxacin, and chloramphenicol.

4.3. Allergic Conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis can be managed with topical or systemic antihistamines. Common topical antihistamines include ketotifen, naphazoline, and cromolyn sodium. Systemic antihistamines like loratadine, cetirizine, and fexofenadine are also effective.

Additional Measures for Symptom Relief

– Cold Compresses: Apply a clean, damp cloth to the eyes for 5-10 minutes several times a day.

– Rest: Avoid using computers, phones, and reading during an episode.

– Avoid Eye Rubbing: Rubbing can spread viruses and bacteria from your hands to your eyes.

– Frequent Hand Washing: Use soap and water to prevent the spread of infection.

– Avoid Sharing Personal Items: Do not share towels or pillows with others.

Treatment of Acute Conjunctivitis

Rubbing can spread viruses and bacteria from your hands to your eyes.

Consult your doctor for a precise diagnosis and appropriate treatment to prevent complications and promote recovery.

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