Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is inflammation of the conjunctiva, the clear membrane that lines the inner surface of the eyelids and covers the white part of the eye. It is one of the most common eye infections in Nigeria,locally known as “Apollo” affecting people of all ages.
Conjunctivitis can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Bacteria: Bacterial conjunctivitis is the most common type of pink eye and is highly contagious. It is usually caused by Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria.
- Viruses: Viral conjunctivitis is also contagious and is often caused by the same viruses that cause the common cold or the flu.
- Allergies: Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by an allergic reaction to something in the environment, such as pollen, dust mites, or pet dander.
- Irritants: Irritant conjunctivitis can be caused by exposure to chemicals, smoke, or other irritants.
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs): Gonorrhea and chlamydia can cause a rare but serious form of bacterial conjunctivitis, especially in newborns.
The symptoms of conjunctivitis vary depending on the underlying cause. However, common symptoms include:
- Redness of the eye
- Swelling of the eyelids
- Discharge from the eye, which may be watery, mucous, or purulent (pus-like)
- Sensitivity to light
If you think you or your child has conjunctivitis, it is important to see a doctor or eye care professional to get a diagnosis and treatment. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause, but may include antibiotics, antiviral medications, or allergy medications.
Here are some tips to help prevent the spread of conjunctivitis:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Avoid touching your eyes.
- Do not share towels with others.
- Use clean water and cotton balls (not handkerchief) to clean the eyes from inside out.
- Avoid putting any concoction or breast milk in the eyes, because it can worsen the symptoms and even damage the eyes.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated with eye discharge, such as eyeglasses and contact lenses.
If you or your child have conjunctivitis, it is important to stay home from work or school until the infection has cleared up. This will help prevent the spread of the infection to others.
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