conjunctiva is the clear membrane which encircles and protects the eyeball.
When you look at the white of the eye you are really looking through
the conjunctiva at the sclera, the leathery tough outer coat of the
eye. The conjunctiva has many small blood vessels running through it.
The purpose of the conjunctiva is to lubricate, protect and to allow
the eye to move in its socket.
CONJUNCTIVITIS is an inflammation of the lining of the
eye. It may be caused by a number of different agents. These include
bacteria (as in"pink eye"), viruses, chemicals, allergies,
or by a number of other possibilities Sometimes it is difficult to tell
exactly which of the above is the real cause.
BACTERIAL CONJUNCTIVITIS is characterized by lid swelling,
a yellowish discharge, sometimes a scratchy feeling in the eye, itching
and mattering of the lids, especially in the mornings upon awakening.
The conjunctiva is red and sometimes thickened. The most common bacteria
are the Staphylococcus, the Streptococcus, and H. Influenza. Often both
eyes become involved. This disease is very contagious, and sometimes
entire families are infected. We don't usually use laboratory cultures
to make the diagnosis as this is expensive and time consuming. Most
of the infections are over by the time the results of the lab tests
TREATMENT is curative. Usually antibiotic drops and compresses
ease the discomfort and clear up the infection in just a few days. Covering
the eye is not a good idea because the eye acts like an incubator for
the germs if treated this way. If left untreated, several serious complications
may occur. These potential problems include infection in the cornea,
lids and tear ducts. In more severe infections oral antibiotics are
necessary. Occasionally the infection does not respond well to the drops
which were prescribed. In those rare cases a second visit to the office
should be made and other measures undertaken.
PREVENTION is important in avoiding the disease and in
stopping its spread.Careful hand washing, the use of clean handkerchiefs,
and avoidance of contagious individuals are all helpful. Little children
frequently get conjunctivitis because of their contact with germs and
lack of understanding about hygiene.