- The conjunctiva is the membrane that lines the eyelids and the Sclera (white of the eye). Infection or irritation of the conjunctiva and the inflammation (redness, irritation, swelling) that results is termed Conjunctivitis.
- Eyes are red or pink.
- Eyelids stick together especially
in the morning.
- Eyes Itch
- Excess tearing.
- White-yellow or cream color thick
sticky discharge (usually in bacterial infections).
- Watery discharge (Allergic or
- Pain may be present.
- Bacterial symptoms often in one
- Virus infections and allergies
often affect both eyes.
- Bleeding or hemorrhage can be seen
as tiny blood vessels rupture (Viral or chemical).
- Viruses such as Herpes can cause
tiny Ulcers (shallow open sores).
- Swelling of conjunctiva can occur.
- Sensitivity to
- Do others in family have similar symptoms?
- Chemical exposure
- Family history
- Direct examination of the eye with
an Ophthalmoscope, an instrument with a light that allows
the doctor to check the inside of the eye.
- Vision exam -- using an eye chart
- Eye discharge may be collected and
sent for a culture
- Cultures that identify the type of
infection and bacteria usually take about 48 - 72 hours to
- Viral cultures take longer
- The doctor can stain the crusty eye
discharge with a special dye and look at it under a
microscope (Gram stain or Giemsa stain), but this is a rare
treatment these days.
- Special stains and slides can be prepared from the discharge to look for specific infections such as the Papanicolaou test for Herpes Simplex.
- Staining the eye with Fluorescein
dye will show cuts and ulcers under an ultraviolet lamp.
- Blood tests can also be done for specific causes
- See causes.
- During delivery if mother has Neisseria gonorrhea or Chlamydia the baby's
eyes are infected.
- Schools or institutions where
others have conjunctivitis.
- Poor hygiene and frequent touching eyes.
- If ulcers or damage has occurred,
the patient is referred to an eye specialist
- Warm (NOT HOT) water can be used to wash the debris. Cold water may help with irritants, chemicals and Allergic Conjunctivitis.
- Remove contacts
- Bacterial infections
- Antibiotic eye drops or ointments
that are given for 5-7 days
- Gentamicin, Tobramycin and
Erythromycin ophthalmic preparations are often put in
every 4 hours.
- Antibiotic pills are rarely necessary, but Doxycycline, taken orally for 3 weeks, is effective against Chlamydia.
- Viral infections without
ulcerations are usually resolved without treatment
- Antiviral eye drops and pills
such as Acyclovir are effective therapies for
- Allergy medicines
- Avoid the causative agent
- Oral and antihistamine eye drops
Contact your doctor for an eye exam. If the chemicals have gotten into your eye, wash them immediately with cold water and get to the emergency room. Do not delay treatment!
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