Spring and conjunctivitis: “It is important to know what precautions we must take to avoid infection”

By Vital Health – 11 April, 2022

Read the opinion article by Rufino Silva, ophthalmologist, about conjunctivitis associated with the spring season and what to do to treat it.

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin and transparent membrane that covers the inner surface of the eyelids and the white part of our eyes. This eye disease is very common and responsible for numerous school and work absences.  Now that spring is beginning, they are more frequent. However, they can be caused by several factors, the most common being allergies, bacteria, and viruses.  It is important to know the characteristics of each one, since they are different, and what precautions we should take to avoid infection.

Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by a reaction of our immune system to irritating substances, such as dust, pollens, animal hair, and mites. It is most common in spring and fall. The main symptoms are itching, red eye, tearing and swelling of the eyelids. The secretions are mucous. In more severe cases, there may be a burning sensation and vision becomes blurred. Treatment for allergic conjunctivitis includes identifying and removing the irritating substance, if possible. In addition, your ophthalmologist may prescribe some antihistamine and anti-inflammatory drops. It is important to avoid scratching your eyes, as this can worsen the symptoms.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria that infect the conjunctiva. Symptoms include red eye, include eyelids, tearing, purulent (yellowish) secretions, and a feeling of sand in the eyes. In some cases, vision may become blurred. Your Ophthalmologist may prescribe antibiotics in drops and ointment with improvement, usually, within a week. It is important to follow your Ophthalmologist’s instructions regarding dosage and duration of treatment to ensure that the treatment is effective. In addition, it is essential to keep your hands clean and avoid sharing towels and sheets to prevent the spread of the infection.

Adenovirus conjunctivitis is highly contagious and can spread easily through contact with contaminated objects or close contact with an infected person. Symptoms include red eyes, tearing, itching, pain, light sensitivity, and blurred vision. The secretions are watery and very abundant. There is no specific treatment for viral conjunctivitis, but we can relieve the symptoms with cold compresses and lubricating eye drops without medical prescription. It is important to avoid scratching the eyes, sharing personal items, and we should wash our hands frequently.  Usually, the symptoms are very exuberant at first and disappear in about two weeks. However, there are some virus strains that leave after-effects after the acute phase has passed. So, if you notice that your vision has become blurred and that it is very difficult to see the light after the acute phase has passed, you should consult your Ophthalmologist.