The conjunctiva has immune cells with a defence system serving as a protective dike against unwanted parasites. When this barrier is disrupted, conjunctivitis known as “pink eye” develops which is an infectious or an allergic disease and should not be taken for granted. Particularly inflammation suffered in childhood could have some long-lasting consequences, so it is better avoided including the infectious and non-infectious factors. Viruses and bacteria causing conjunctivitis are infectious and spread even faster among children.
The conjunctiva has a protective eye function; if there is contact with a virus or parasites, inflammation may occur. Bacteria can get into eyes by a mere touch with dirty fingers, a shared towel or through water in a swimming pool. Very common bacterial agents of conjunctivitis are streptococci, staphylococci or chlamydia. Conjunctivitis also arises due to allergy or contact with an allergen which stimulates a reaction. The most common allergens are moulds, pollens, dust mites or animals. However, conjunctivitis-causing allergic reaction may be stimulated by a drug or contact lenses. Hay fever is another risk factor as well as a typical cold or infection of the upper airways. Eye surface tends to be disrupted by a foreign body, chemical substances, smoke or drafts. A prolonged sun exposure may also provoke conjunctivitis. The well-known triggers are prolonged staring into the monitor, excess eye strain or inadequate sleep. If many factors accumulate, then conjunctivitis or conversely healthy eyes are reflected by the immune system function.
Signs and symptoms
Conjunctivitis is typically manifested as watering of the eye, red and painful eye, burning sensation, tears, itching or a feeling of having sand in the eye. Symptoms are usually accompanied with a dilation of blood vessels in the whites of the eyes, and a darker colour of eyelids and their swelling. Over-production of eye secretions overnight makes the eye to be stuck shut. But secretions are a natural response for the entire duration of conjunctivitis. Pink eyes are more sensitive to light due to inflammation, hence the relief in a dark room.
Essential eye care as a form of prevention involves consistent hygiene. Disinfection of hands should always precede the finger contact with eyes, but eyes should be touched only if absolutely necessary, or a clean tissue or gloves should be used. Eyes should be protected from UV by wearing sunglasses, and if handling the welder or similar tools, protective equipment should be used. Conjunctivitis may be prevented by avoiding air pollution, and in case of allergies, by limiting excess dust and pollen. Eyes and conjunctiva do not like excess strain, thus some rest should be taken during prolonged work at a computer or when watching TV. It is also important to prevent diseases of the upper airways by boosting the immune system. When noticing the first signs of inflammation, fatigue or mild itching, the disease may be inhibited by giving a rest to eyes, supplying vitamins or by rinsing of eyes using herbal solutions.
A mild form of conjunctivitis can be treated at home using natural products. It only takes a few days. It is recommended to rinse the eyes with artificial tears, apply chamomile compresses or eye drops. Applying make-up or contact lenses during conjunctivitis is not recommended. Moreover, eyes should rest, polluted environment or touching should be limited, and sunglasses should be worn. Curd or sage may help due to their anti-inflammatory and soothing effects. If conjunctivitis is more severe, antibiotic ointments are prescribed. The root of the problem needs to be considered as it may link to a weak immune system. Therefore, boosting the immunity is recommended using natural food supplements to help the body naturally destroy viruses and bacteria that cause inflammation.
Impact of the immune system on conjunctivitis
General inflammations have an opportunity to develop due to a weak immune system. A healthy immunity is under normal circumstances capable of defeating the viruses and parasites; it eliminates them and prevents the disease. A weak immunity, as in the case of an eye, means that any contact with factors inducing inflammation is high-risk. Moreover, conjunctiva has immune cells that are unable to defend adequately if disrupted, and so it naturally stimulates over-production of secretions. When immunity in the conjunctiva is restored, the eye recovers.