Itching, redness of the eye, and an unusual eye discharge are some of the common symptoms of bacterial conjunctivitis. This HealthHearty article dwells on the symptoms of this common eye infection, along with its causes and treatment.
Conjunctivitis or pink eye can be bacterial, viral, or it can be caused by allergies. The term conjunctivitis is used to refer to the inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is a transparent membrane that lines the eyeball and the undersurface of the eyelid.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is the infection and inflammation of the conjunctiva caused by bacteria. It is one of the most common types of pink eye. It causes the eye, especially the white portion of the eye to appear red or pink. Apart from this, the infected eye can produce a number of other symptoms. So, let’s take a brief look at the symptoms and causes of this condition.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is usually caused by bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, Haemophilus influenzae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Streptococcus pneumoniae. Rarely, chlamydia and gonorrhea can also cause this infection. Sometimes, a newborn baby can contract these bacteria during delivery, if the mother is infected with chlamydia or gonorrhea.
The signs and symptoms of pink eye can vary to an extent, depending on the causative agent. The early symptom of this condition is a gritty or scratchy sensation in the eye. Many people describe it as the sensation of having some foreign particles in the eye. The other common symptoms associated with pink eye are:
- Redness of the Eye: This symptom can be experienced in almost all types of pink eye, whether it is caused by bacteria, virus, or allergens. It is caused by the dilation of the blood vessels of the conjunctiva, which makes them look more prominent. As a result, the affected eye appears red or pink.
- Unusual Eye Discharge: Pink eye caused by bacteria is characterized by a mucopurulent discharge. The eye discharge is usually thick, and yellow or greenish in color. The discharge is sticky, and it glues the eyelids or the eyelashes when the eyes are kept closed for a long time while sleeping. This makes it quite difficult to open the eyes in the morning.
- Sensitivity to Light: People suffering from this eye infection can experience photophobia or an increased sensitivity to bright light.
- Swollen Eyelids: Along with causing an inflammation of the conjunctiva, pink eye can affect the eyelids as well. A swollen eyelid is a very common symptom of pink eye caused by bacteria.
- Itching and Irritation of the Eye: This eye infection is also known to cause intense itching and a burning sensation in the affected eye. However, this symptom may not be experienced by all individuals.
- Other Symptoms: Apart from the aforementioned symptoms, one can experience a few additional discomforts, such as pain and pressure on the eyeball, heavy tearing, and crusting.
On observing any of the symptoms of bacterial conjunctivitis, one should immediately consult a physician or ophthalmologist. This would help ascertain whether the symptoms are caused by pink eye or some other eye disorders. A physician or ophthalmologist usually examines a sample of the eye discharge to diagnose the condition. If the eye infection is found to be caused by bacteria, then the physician can prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointments. Along with eye drops and ointments, a warm compress can also help reduce the itching and irritation. In the meantime, one should avoid wearing contact lenses until the infection clears up.
With proper care and treatment, the symptoms of bacterial conjunctivitis usually resolve within a few days. Untreated pink eye can sometimes cause an inflammation of the cornea, which can affect vision. Prompt treatment can however, help avoid such complications and get rid of this eye infection within a couple of days.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.