Conjunctivitis as you are aware comes in many forms – especially the three most common forms:
- Bacterial, which can be cleared up with antibiotic eyedrops ,
- Viral, which cannot be treated with drops but will go away on its own, or in-office iodine treatments, and
- Allergic, which is caused by whatever you’re allergic to, obviously. Allergic varieties apart from avoiding the allergen can be treated with antihistamine drops and mild steroid drops.
But there are other types of conjunctivitis with which you might not be familiar – and their causes are different, as well.
Gonococcal and Chlamydial Conjunctivitis
These are bacterial forms of conjunctivitis that are treatable, as long as the patient comes in to the office for treatment! Included in this category is Trachoma – which causes scarring on the surface of the eye. If left untreated, you will go blind – and what’s sad is, this type of blindness is completely preventable.
Some people will not go in for treatment due to embarrassment or shame, while others are just ignorant of what conjunctivitis is and what can happen in these cases if left untreated. These things happen – get it treated before it’s too late.
Typically, newborns develop neonatal conjunctivitis when baby passes through the birth canal of a mother infected with chlamydia or herpes simplex type 2. If the condition is left untreated, baby can go blind. The best way to prevent neonatal conjunctivitis is to get treated for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) prior to the birth of your baby.
Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis
Known as GPC, this type of conjunctivitis typically affects contact lens wearers (specifically, soft lens wearers). You won’t be able to wear contacts for a while, and you may even have to switch the types of lenses you’re wearing. Remember, prevention is best for this type of conjunctivitis, so make sure that any time you switch out your lenses, you’ve washed your hands, and you’re making sure that your lenses are properly cleaned. That includes the case they come in, too!
More advanced forms require prescription anti-inflammatories. Untreated GPC is one of the more common reasons that contact lenses fail in the long term. Regular contact lens eye tests with the optometrist looking under your eyelids is by far the best way of avoiding contact lens failure.
Of course, GPC can be traced to other root causes, such as prosthetic eyes, stitches, or similar things that come into contact with the eye.
This is one type of conjunctivitis we’ve touched on before – from long airplane rides, diesel exhaust, perfumes, chemicals, reactions to certain preservatives in drops – all cause the eye to become irritated and develop signs of conjunctivitis. If you notice any of these symptoms developing after contact with chemicals or irritants of any sort, it’s a good idea to get in touch with us at The Eye Practice for treatment and prevention practices.
Conjunctivitis can be serious, and lead to permanent damage if left untreated. Some people just try to “guess” what’s causing their conjunctivitis, and use home remedies that may mask their symptoms, but not treat the root cause. This is a bad idea, and can lead to blindness and permanent scarring in some cases. Don’t try to diagnose and treat yourself – get a professional to help you!
A therapeutically qualified optometrist can prescribe appropriate medication. Make sure the optometrist you are seeing is therapeutically qualified, as they have had extra training in treating all forms of conjunctivitis. Dr Jim Kokkinakis is therapeutically qualified. Make an appointment to see him on 9290 1899 if you think you have conjunctivitis.