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Preventing and Treating Viral Conjunctivitis

Mar 31, 2017

Preventing and Treating Viral Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis or pink eye is inflammation of the transparent part of sclera and the inner surface of the eyelid (called conjunctiva). Viral conjunctivitis is spread by airborne virus through sneezing or coughing or from another infected person. The most common cause of viral conjunctivitis is Adenoviruses. Other types of viral conjunctivitis include herpetic keratoconjunctivitis caused by herpes simplex viruses; acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis caused by enteroviruses, Enterovirus 70 and Coxsackievirus A24, poxvirus (vaccinia, molluscum contagiosum), varicella zoster etc.

The symptoms of viral conjunctivitis include redness and swelling of conjunctiva, watering and itching of eyes, photophobia. Often there is upper respiratory tract infection (URTI), sore throat and common Microscope studies show a punctate keratitis and plenty of lymphoid follicles on tarsal conjunctiva.

Prevention & Treatment                     

In about 65% of the cases, viral conjunctivitis resolves on its own without any medical treatment within 2 to 5 days. Cold compresses can be given several times a day. In some cases symptomatological treatment is done with lubricant eye drops, antihistamines like diphenhydramine (0.12% drops) or mast cell stabilizers like cromolyn. Analgesics can be given for pain relief. Povidone iodine has also been used for treatment. Herpetic keratoconjunctivitis is treated with acyclovir. For conjunctivitis associated with molluscum contagiosum, disease will persist until the skin lesion is treated.

The best preventive strategy is maintaining hygiene through washing  hands often, not rubbing eyes with infected hands, wash the discharge from the eyes with cotton/tissue, washing bed linen/towels etc., in hot water, discarding used make-up/disposable contact lenses, avoiding public swimming pools, avoid sharing clothing/cosmetics etc. Vaccination against adenovirus is also useful.

Latest Development

Medical Marijuana for Conjunctivitis- According to research on medical marijuana has shown that it can provide palliative care to viral conjunctivitis by reducing inflammation and relieving pain, easing the course of disease, and speed up recovery process.

Disclaimer: The information given in this write-up is purely for educating the reader. It is not meant to be a substitute for any advice from a medical expert.

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