Conjunctivitis, also called "pinkeye" in the United States and "madras eye" in India, describes the inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane that lines the eyelid (conjunctiva) and part of the eyeball.
Conjunctivitis can be caused by an infection, allergic reaction, or exposure to chemicals or irritants.
Common symptoms include redness, tearing and itching in one or both eyes, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, feeling of grittiness in one or both eyes, and discharge in one or both eyes.
The name "madras eye" originated when the adenovirus, a virus that causes conjunctivitis, was first identified in Chennai (Madras), India during the early 20th Century.
Even though conjunctivitis that is caused by an infection is highly contagious, it does not cause serious health problems if it is diagnosed and treated early. However, if left untreated, it can lead to serious eye damage, including permanent vision loss.
Blepharoconjunctivitis is a combination of conjunctivitis and inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis). Keratoconjunctivitis is a combination of conjunctivitis and inflammation of the cornea (keratitis).
Conjunctivitis that is caused by an infection is treated with antibiotics or antivirals. Patients who have allergic conjunctivitis are typically treated with antihistamines, ocular (eye) decongestants, and mast cell stabilizers. These medications are available as eye drops, eye creams, and oral pills.
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