Edson Procianoy, MD. – Ophtalmology Specialist, Ph.D. in Medicine, Rio Grande do Sul State University (UFRGS).

Guest authors: Letícia Procianoy, MD. Fernando Procianoy MD. – Ophtalmology.

An epidemics of conjunctivitis that is arriving in some southern regions of Brazil is causing people to seek information on this topic.

Conjunctivitis (“pink eye”) is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the membrane coating the white part of the eye; it may cause changes in the cornea and eyelids.

Main symptoms:

Red eyes
Discharge (the type depends upon the cause)
Increased tearing
Swollen eyelids
Sensation of a foreign body in the eyes

Although conjunctivitis may arise from allergic, viral, and bacterial causes or chemical irritants, only infectious (viral and bacterial) conjunctivitis is contagious. Viral conjunctivitis is the type that more frequently results in epidemics.

To fight off an epidemics, it’s important that people with conjunctivitis, as well as those without the infection, possess useful information for their protection and for preventing contagiousness.

How to prevent it

As it is a disease of which the contagion occurs by physical contact of the eye with the hands, objects, contaminated pools or towels, we must avoid:

Bathing in public pools,
Using towels that aren’t of private use
Contact with contaminated individuals

The lack of care may turn a handshake into conjunctivitis.

All these measures must be observed for at least 15 days since the beginning of the symptoms in contaminated individuals, for the reason that during this period conjunctivitis-infected people may still present contagion, which must be prevented from being passed on to other individuals.

The symptoms of viral conjunctivitis are more accentuated at the first week and may last as long as 4 weeks. Due to the easiness by which contagion occurs, the involvement of both eyes is common.

Assistance by an ophthalmologist is important for diagnosing the type of conjunctivitis and a suitable treatment.

Guest authors:

Dr. Letícia Procianoy
Dr. Fernando Procianoy