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Allergic conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is one of the most common diseases these days. Children and young adults make up the majority of the patients. Much of this increasing incidence of allergies can be due to exposure to environmental pollutants, dust, smoke, pollen or animal hairs. These substances are widely present all around us, especially during spring and summer seasons.

Many children also have a history of other allergies such as asthma, allergic rhinitis and dermatitis. Some individuals, such as those working in laboratories, sitting in air-conditioned rooms, passively breathing fumes (even from incense sticks and mosquito repellents) are at higher risk of allergic conjunctivitis or conjunctivitis. Wearing contact lenses for a long time can also put you at risk.

Symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis or pink eye

The most common symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis are redness, watery eyes, rosy discharge, pain, and sometimes blurred vision with intense itching in the eyes. Many sufferers have a habit of constantly touching their eyes. In some children, frequent rubbing of the eyes develops dark circles around their eyes and cloudy colored conjunctiva. Sometimes symptoms in the eyes may be accompanied by sneezing and a runny nose.

Conjunctivitis can be seasonal or perennial. The onset of these symptoms may occur in early spring and summer. Typically, symptoms can resolve with medication and reappear later on re-exposure to the allergen.

What can be the causes of conjunctivitis or pink eye?

Technically, the pink or red color of pink eye occurs when the blood vessels covering your eye (conjunctiva) become inflamed, making them more visible. There can be many reasons for this swelling.

  • Viruses are one of the most common causes of pink eye. Such as the common cold or coronavirus-19 are among the viruses that can cause pink eye.
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Haemophilus influenzae, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa are common types of bacteria that cause bacterial conjunctivitis.
  • Allergies to mold, pollen or any other substance can also cause pink eye.
  • Irritants, such as shampoos, cosmetics, contact lenses, dirt, smoke, and especially chlorine from pools could also be the reason of conjunctivitis.

Is pink eye contagious? If yes, how long can it last?

Pink eye spreads very easily from person to person. If you get pink eye from bacteria, you can spread it when you have symptoms or even about 24 to 48 hours after starting antibiotic treatment.

If you get pink eye from a virus, you can spread it as long as you have symptoms and even before you develop symptoms. It may last for several days, but pink eye caused by allergies is not contagious.

How does pink eye spread?

  • The transfer of bacteria or viruses during close contact such as shaking hands, touching or when you touch your eye can transfer germs from the infected person's hand to your hand and then to your eye.
  • By touching surfaces contaminated with bacteria or viruses (from infected individuals who have transferred germs from their hands to objects).
  • Using unclean old eye makeup or sharing makeup that has been contaminated with bacteria or viruses.

How is pink eye diagnosed?

Your ophthalmologist will examine the eyes. An acuity test or eye chart test may be done to see if vision has been affected or not. Conjunctivitis can usually be diagnosed based on symptoms and health history.

How is pink eye (conjunctivitis) treated?

The treatment of pink eye depends on its cause –

  • If your pink eye is caused by bacteria, you will be given a prescription for antibiotics (eye drops, ointment or pills). Within a week, the infection should be gone.
  • Conjunctivitis caused by viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics. Just as a common cold runs its course, so does this form of pink eye, which will last four to seven days but can take up to 14 days to fully recover. In the meantime, apply cold compresses several times a day to get relief from symptoms.
  • If some allergy is the cause, then it can be treated with prescription or over-the-counter eye drops that contain antihistamines to control allergic reactions, or medications such as steroids.
  • You can also temporarily reduce symptoms by using a cold compress to closed eyes, or you can avoid the allergens that are causing your symptoms permanently by avoiding them.

At MM Chokshi Eye Hospital we understand that diseases like conjunctivitis can bring along anxiety but don’t panic.

Look at the world with more clarity. Make an appointment today, at MM Chokshi Eye Hospital.

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