Conjunctivitis is a common infection of the eyes. Conjunctivitis means inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the mucous membrane that lines the inside surface of the lids and covers the surface of the globe up to the limbus (the junction of the sclera and the cornea).
Bacterial conjunctivitis is more common in children. It is commonly caused by Staphylococcus aureus, Steptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae and Moraxella catarrhalis. Bacterial conjunctivitis is spread by direct contact with the patient and his or her secretions or with contaminated objects and surfaces. Patients typically complain of redness and discharge of the affected eye.
Viral conjunctivitis is usually caused by adenovirus. The conjunctivitis may be part of a early onset of viral infection followed by adenopathy, fever, pharyngitis, and upper respiratory tract infection, or the eye infection may be the only manifestation of the disease. It is high contagious and spread by direct contact with the patient and his or her secretions or with contaminated objects and surfaces. Patients typically complain of watery discharge, burning, sandy or gritty feeling in one eye. Viral conjunctivitis is a self-limited process. The symptoms frequently get worse for the first three to five days, with gradual resolution over one to three weeks.
Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by airborne allergens contacting the eye. It typically presents as both eye redness, watery discharge and itching.
Conjunctivitis is usually diagnosed clinically. Sometimes, swab may be taken if there is no response to prior treatment.
- Bacterial conjunctivitis is usually treated with Chloramphenicol eye drop or ointment. Chloramphenicol eye drop or ointment does not require prescription from doctor and can be purchased over the counter in pharmacy. Expected response to treatment should take 2-3 days. If no improvement, patient should seek immediate treatment from a doctor.
- Viral conjunctivitis does not normally require treatment. There is no specific antiviral eye drop for viral conjunctivitis. Sometimes, lubricant eye drop can be used to ease the eye discomfort.
- Allergic conjunctivitis can be treated with antihistamine eye drop such as Visine Allergy eye drop. This can be purchased over the counter in pharmacy. If the allergic conjunctivitis is severe, mild form of steroid eye drop such as FML eye drop can be used but with extra cautious and for short term purpose. This will require monitoring by a doctor or an ophthalmologist. FML eye drop will require prescription from doctor.