Newcastle-based optometrist Rubeena Jadwat takes a closer look at conjunctivitis, its causes and what treatments are available.
Firstly, Jadwat emphasises that before looking at the condition itself, it is necessary to know more about the conjunctiva and why it becomes red and inflamed under certain conditions. “The conjunctiva is the thin, clear, translucent membrane lining the front or anterior part of the eye, which is the sclera, and then also the inside of the eyelid. When the conjunctiva becomes inflamed, it is called conjunctivitis,” explains Jadwat.
She further points out that there are three forms of conjunctivitis, which are viral, bacterial, and allergic. The most common of these three, being, viral. “When you have the viral variant, the virus will take three to seven days to go through your body and so will conjunctivitis.”
When it comes to treatment, Jadwat explains there is no formal method of treating pink eye.
This means a medical practitioner will either have to treat the underlying conditions or conjunctivitis symptoms. “With the viral pink eye, you will have to wait for it to pass through and the pink eye will go with it. When you have a bacterial infection, we will give you antibiotics if necessary, and that too will pass through.”
Bacterial conjunctivitis usually only requires antibiotics when infections such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia are a contributing factor.
Regarding the allergic variant, the optometrist explains people who have allergies usually take the necessary allergy meds to inhibit side effects of conjunctivitis. Doctors can provide medication to offer some relief to the irritation caused by the ailment.
While she emphasises that it is not generally a serious condition, pink eye can take a nasty turn. This usually occurs when the condition is caused by STDs or through overwearing contact lenses.
According to Jadwat, overwearing one’s contact lenses can lead to corneal ulcers. Moreover, conjunctivitis stemming from an STD such as gonorrhoea and overwearing glasses can result in blindness if one does not seek medical assistance.
If you show pink eye symptoms, do not hesitate to visit your physician and be sure to see your local optometrist in order to maintain eye health.