Spreading virus: Viral Conjunctivitis

My dear friends,

This is an alert concerning the spread of the viral conjunctivitis latetly noticed to have increased in Lebanon.

What is conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the white of the eyeball. Symptoms of conjunctivitis include redness, discharge, burning, and sometimes itching and light sensitivity. It can occur in one eye or both.

What causes conjunctivitis?
The most common cause of conjunctivitis is a viral infection. Other causes include seasonal allergies, allergies like dust, pollen, or a special type of allergy that affects some contact lens wearers, bacterial infection, reactions to eye medications and irritants such as shampoos, dirt, smoke, and pool chlorine.

How is conjunctivitis transmitted?
Viral conjunctivitis can be transmitted FROM one person to another by casual contact, sharing towels or pillow cases, facial contact, or sharing of cosmetics. It can occur before, during, or after a cold or upper respiratory infection because the same virus which causes the cold can cause a conjunctivitis. Viral conjunctivitis is very contagious in the first 10-12 days and may last up to 2-3 weeks.

Allergic conjunctivitis usually occurs in the spring and summer and is not contagious. It causes itching in addition to redness and tearing. It is caused by allergies to pollens FROM plants.

Bacterial conjunctivitis, like viral conjunctivitis, is contagious. Most people who develop bacterial conjunctivitis, also have other eye conditions such as dry eyes or inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis). There is a sexually transmitted type of conjunctivitis, called chlamydial conjunctivitis, which often produces symptoms of long duration (>4 weeks).

Pinkeye in newborn babies, however, should be reported to a doctor immediately.

What are the symtoms of is conjunctivitis?
The symptoms differ based on the cause of the inflammation, but may include:

  • Redness in the white of the eye or inner eyelid.
  • Increased amount of tears.
  • Thick yellow discharge that crusts over the eyelashes, especially after sleep.
  • Green or white discharge from the eye.
  • Itchy eyes.
  • Burning eyes.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Increased sensitivity to light.

If you have pain, decreased vision, or a strong light sensitivity associated with your symptoms of a red eye, you are likely to have a condition more serious than conjunctivitis. In this circumstance you should see an ophthalmologist immediately. 

What precautions should I take when I have conjunctivitis?
The most important precaution is to be extremely strict with handwashing. Always wash hands with soap and water before and after touching the eyes. Avoid any facial contact with others while you are HAVING symptoms. Don’t let others use your personal articles such as towels, pillows, or cosmetics. If you are a contact lens wearer, you should not wear contact lenses while you have any symptoms. People who provide healthcare, food services, or education should not work until their eyes feel and look normal because of the risk of spreading the infection to others.

What is the basic therapy and treatment?
Treatment varies depending on the specific cause of conjunctivitis. For viral conjunctivitis using a cool wet cloth 3-4 times a day and applying artificial tears will relieve the symptoms. If there is a suspcicion of bacterial conjunctivitis antibiotic drops or ointment are usually given. Allergic conjunctivitis may be relieved by over the counter medications such as Naphcon A or by prescription medications such as Livostin or Patanol.

Be safe and don’t ignore symptoms should they occur!

(The other images found were really shocking, they hurt my eyes!)

Sources: DJO & WebMD


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