What is Infective Conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis affects the conjunctiva, the thin layer of tissue that covers the white of the eye as well as the inside of the eyelid. It is usually caused by an infection. Most of the time infective conjunctivitis is due to bacteria or a virus, often the exact same bacteria and viruses that cause cold and flu. While infective conjunctivitis can occur alone, it often coincides with a case of the flu or cold. Infective conjunctivitis is not a serious infection most of the time, usually clearing up on its own within a week or two.

Very rarely does it cause any permanent eye problems. It is possible, however, for infective conjunctivitis to be more serious. If it is caused by the herpes virus, the same one that causes cold sores, Keratitis may occur. Keratitis is when the cornea of the eye becomes infected. The biggest sign that you have Keratitis, along with your infective conjunctivitis, is that you will be in severe pain instead of just minor discomfort that normally occurs.

You will also have blurry vision. Infective conjunctivitis can be especially dangerous for newborns that contract it during birth if their mother has Gonorrhea or Chlamydia. The presence of these STDs at birth requires that the newborn receive immediate preventive measures to stop a possible infective conjunctivitis occurrence. Infective conjunctivitis can also be caused in adults because of Chlamydia. While it usually starts in one eye, infective conjunctivitis can easily spread to the other and most often does, before there is any sign of it.

This makes it appear that both eyes have been infected at the same time. The first sign of infective conjunctivitis is when the white of the eye turns red or pink in color. The eye may have a gritty feeling like something is in it and begin to have excess tearing. It will be fairly sore and swollen as well. As the infective conjunctivitis continues there will eventually be some form of mucus-like discharge that is yellow or green in color. If a virus is the cause it will be thinner and there will be more tearing than mucus.

If bacteria are the culprit, then there will be thick discharge that can cause the eyes to get stuck together while sleeping. The vision in the eye should not be affected except for momentary blurring due to the discharge and tearing. No treatment is needed in most cases of infective conjunctivitis. The excessive tearing is the eye’s way of cleaning itself and the tears actually have antibodies in them that will kill the bacteria. It usually clears on its own in two weeks, at the longest, but most cases are gone within five days. However, if it lasts longer or symptoms become severe, medical advice should be sought right away.

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