What causes conjunctivitis? Four possible conditions

16 Jun
By Max Jones

What causes conjunctivitis? Four possible conditions

Conjunctivitis commonly referred to as pink eye or red eye is an inflammation of the conjunctiva – the thin tissue that covers the white part of the eye and is present on the inside of the eyelids. Conjunctivitis affects both eyes at the same time though it may start in one and spread to the other within a gap of few hours. Knowing what causes conjunctivitis can help to prevent the condition.

Types of Conjunctivitis

There are four different types of conjunctivitis – each with their causes, symptoms and treatment methods.

• Bacterial Conjunctivitis

What causes conjunctivitis? Bacterial conjunctivitis is often caused by the same kind of bacteria that causes throat infections such as Streptococci, Staphylococci, or Haemophilus bacteria.

Bacterial conjunctivitis affects children more than adults. It can last for 2-3 days or a couple of weeks depending on the severity of the condition. The eyelids may stick together generally in the mornings and there may be crusting or discharge from the eyes. For this kind of inflammation, antibiotics are used for treatment. Ointments and eye drops are prescribed by the doctor. With the use of antibiotics, the symptoms begin to disappear within just a few days.

• Viral Conjunctivitis

Viral conjunctivitis can be caused by many different kinds of viruses. It is mild and cures completely within 7-14 days without any treatment as such. If there are complications, it can take 2-3 weeks to clear up.

There is no treatment for viral conjunctivitis. The symptoms go away on their own within 7 to 10 days. Dabbing the eyes with warm compresses can help soothe the inflammation. Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis can affect one or both the eyes. While viral conjunctivitis leads to a watery discharge, bacterial conjunctivitis produces a thick, yellow-green discharge. Both these types of inflammation are contagious and can quickly spread either by direct or indirect contact with the secretions.

What causes conjunctivitis?

Some of the common ways to get viral or bacterial conjunctivitis include:

• Touching your eyes often with unclean hands

• Not using clean contact lenses or using ill-fitting ones

• Using infected towels, tissues or eye makeup

Allergic conjunctivitis:

What causes conjunctivitis? This kind of inflammation is caused by allergens such as pollen from plants, trees, and grasses; molds; contact lenses and cosmetics. When such substances enter the eyes, the body produces an antibody known as immunoglobin. This in turn releases inflammatory substances leading to pink eyes.

This condition occurs more in people who already have allergic conditions such as asthma, eczema, and hay fever. It can occur seasonally, in case of allergens such as pollen, or even year-round when it is due to dust mites and other substances.

Symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis include inflammation, itching, sneezing and nasal discharge.

Irritant conjunctivitis

When a foreign substance enters the eyes, it results in discomfort and irritation. Trying to remove it can lead to irritation and redness. Some symptoms of the condition include mucous discharge and watery eyes.

Environmental pollutants such as fumes or smokes may also lead to inflammation. Symptoms include irritation, burning in the eyes with watery or no discharge. Your doctor might prescribe an antihistamine to contain the inflammation. If you wear contact lenses or use certain cosmetics, it might be a good idea to stop wearing them until the pink eye clears up fully.

Treating Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is a common eye condition that is not serious but can be uncomfortable. It is easily diagnosed. A visit to your doctor will confirm if you have pink eyes. The treatment of the eye condition depends on what caused it. Bacterial Conjunctivitis is short-lived. If symptoms persist, get your eyes examined by an ophthalmologist as it might indicate more serious eye problems.

Tips to Check Conjunctivitis

• Good hygiene, especially of face and hands, is important • If anyone is afflicted with bacterial conjunctivitis, viral or any other, do not share towels or clothes with them • Use disposable tissues on the eyes and throw them after usage to limit contamination • Keep children away from school for at least a couple of days to prevent spreading it to others • Once your infection goes away, replace your eye makeup to prevent possible re-infection • Know what causes conjunctivitis and stay away from the same


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Max Jones

A compulsive reader and a writer with a diploma in nutrition and diet. In my free time I love to explore my city while I promote pedal-biking.

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