Conjunctivitis, commonly called pink eye, is an inflammation of the mucous membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the white portion of the eye.
Symptoms of pink eye include redness, swelling, itching, and pus in the membrane. This condition may be caused by contact lens solution, allergy, bacteria, virus, smoke, dust, Reiter’s syndrome in men, or chemical irritants such as chlorine, smog, or those found in makeup. Pink eye is highly contagious when the cause is a virus and is spread in the same manner that common cold is. If not treated, the condition can leads to bronchitis or pneumonia because of drip-page from the eye into the nasal passages and down the throat.
A deficiency of vitamin A, vitamin B6 or riboflavin may cause pink eye symptoms. The diet should be adequate in these nutrients to help prevent the condition. Certain forms of pink eye are the result of calcium deficiency. In addition, meals should include those foods that dampen inflammation.
Etiology of pink eye (conjunctivitis)
The causes of pink eye fall into two broad categories:
- From a persistent irritation (such as lack of tear fluid or uncorrected refractive error)
- Toxic (due to irritants such as smoke, dust, etc.)
- As a result of another disorder (such as Stevens -Johnson syndrome)
Symptoms of pink eye
Typical symptoms exhibited by all patients include reddened eyes and sticky eyelids in the morning due to increased secretion. Any conjunctivitis also causes swelling of the eyelid, which will appear partially closed (pseudoptosis). Foreign- body sensation, a sensation of pressure, and burning sensation are usually present, although these symptoms may vary between individual patients. Intense itching always suggests an allergic reaction. Photophobia and lachrymation may also be present but can vary considerably. Simultaneous presence of blepharospasm suggests corneal involvement (keratoconjunctivitis).
Diagnosis of pink eye
Physical examination reveals peripheral injection of the bulbar Conjunctival vessels. In children, possible systemic symptoms include sore throat or fever, if the conjunctivitis (pink eye) is suspected of being of adenoviral origin.
Lymphocytes are predominant in stained smears of Conjunctival scrapings if conjunctivitis is caused by a virus. Polymorphonuclear cells (neutrophils) predominate if conjunctivitis is due to bacteria; eosinophils, if it is allergy related. Culture and sensitivity tests indentify the causative bacterial organisms and indicate appropriate antibiotic therapy.
Treatment of pink eye
Treatment for pink eye varies with the cause. Bacterial conjunctivitis requires topical applications of the appropriate broad-spectrum antibiotic. Although viral conjunctivitis resists treatment, a sulfonamide or broad spectrum antibiotic eye-drops may prevent a secondary infection. Patients may be contagious for several weeks after onset. The most important aspect of treatment is preventing transmission. Herpes simplex infection generally responds to treatment with trifluridine drops or vidarabine ointment or oral acyclovir, but the infection may persist for 2 to 3 weeks. Treatment for vernal (allergic) conjunctivitis includes administration of corticosteroid drops followed by cromolyn sodium, cold compresses to relieve itching and occasionally, oral antihistamines.
Instillations of a one-time dose of erythromycin or 1% silver nitrate solution (Crede’s procedure) into the eyes of neonates prevents Gonococcal conjunctivitis.
- Apply compresses and therapeutic ointment or drops, as ordered. Don’t irrigate the eye, as this will spread the infection. Have the patient wash his hands before he uses the medications. Tell him to use clean washcloths or towels frequently so he doesn’t infect his other eye.
- Teach the patient to instill eye-drops and ointment correctly -without touching the bottle tip to his eye or lashes.
- Remind the patient that the ointment will blur his vision.
- Stress the importance of safety glasses for the patient who works near chemical irritants.
- Notify public health authorities if cultures show N. Gonorrhoeae.
Prevention of pink eye
To prevent conjunctivitis from occurring or recurring, teach your patient to practice good hygiene. Encourage the following prevention tips.
Practice good hygiene
To encourage good eye hygiene, teach proper hand washing technique because bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are highly contagious. Stress the risk of spreading infection to family members by sharing washcloths, towels, and pillows. Suggest the use of tissues or disposable wipes to reduce the risk of transmission from contaminated linens. Caution the patient against rubbing his infected eye, which could spread infection to his other eye.
Use cosmetic carefully
If the patient uses eye cosmetic, instruct her not to share them. Also, encourage her to replace eye cosmetic regularly.
Keep contact lenses clean
If the patient wears contact lenses, teach him to handle and clean contact lenses properly. Also, while his eyes are infected, he should stop wearing the lenses until the infections clears.
Avoid contact with contagious people
Because conjunctivitis is highly contagious, particularly among children, infected children should avoid close contact with other children. Warn the patient with “cold sores” to avoid kissing others on the eyelids to prevent the spread of the disease.
Homeopathic treatment of pink eye – Homeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. The selection of remedy is based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity by using holistic approach. This is the only way through which a state of complete health can be regained by removing all the sign and symptoms from which the patient is suffering. The aim of homeopathy is not only to treat pink eye but to address its underlying cause and individual susceptibility. As far as therapeutic medication is concerned, several remedies are available to cure pink eye symptoms that can be selected on the basis of cause, sensations and modalities of the complaints. For individualized remedy selection and treatment, the patient should consult a qualified homeopathic doctor in person. There are following remedies which are helpful in the treatment of pink eye.
Aconite Nap – From cold, injury, dust, surgical operations; scrofulous inflammation with enlarged glands
Belladonna: – head remedy for pink eye, when eyes are blood-shot and very red. Much inflamed and painful
Euphrasia- With watering from the eyes which is acrid
Argentum Nit. – Profuse, purulent discharge; cornea opaque, lids sore, thick, swollen and uncreated; agglutinated in morning. The canthi are red as blood. Mucus obstructs the vision unless frequently wiped off. Catarrhal, ulcerative; opacities of cornea. Better by cold application
Kreosote- Inflamed and red eyes bleed easily.
Apis M. – Swelling of the lids with stinging, shooting pain and photophobia
Rhus Tox. – Thick purulent discharge. Profuse hot lachrymation, Restlessness, Worse about midnight
Alumina Silicate- Pain in the eyes; burning in the evening as from smoke, Inflammation in the open air with itching, Burning in the lids and in the canthi, Pain in the eyes as from sand
Hepar Sul. – has remarkable action over pink eye symptoms specially when there is Inflammation of the eyes with offensive thick, purulent discharge. Ulcers of the cornea with bloody, offensive discharge
John D. Krischmann, Nutrition Search, Inc; 2006; 153
Gerhard, K. Lang- Ophthalmology: a pocket textbook atlas; 74-75
By: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins – Professional guide to diseases; 2008; 665-66