Conjunctivitis popularly called Apollo in most part of West Africa, it is also known as pinkeye. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the thin clear tissue that lies over the white part of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid. It is believed to have originated from Ghana when a man named Apollo in 1968 went to the moon and after he returns, he came back with his eye turned pinkish, the people that are closer to him were all contacted with this infections and it was from there the people now called the infection “Apollo” which is even the common name given to conjunctivitis in west Africa particularly in Ghana and Nigeria.
Causes of Conjunctivitis (Apollo or Pinkeye)
- Pinkeye caused by some bacteria and viruses can spread easily from person to person, but are not a serious health risk if diagnosed promptly. Pinkeye in newborn babies, however, should be reported to a doctor immediately.
- Conjunctivitis is most commonly caused by viral infection, but bacterial infections, allergies, other irritants and dryness are also common etiologies for its occurrence. Both bacterial and viral infections are contagious. Commonly, conjunctival infections are passed from person-to-person, but can also spread through contaminated objects or water.
- The most common cause of viral conjunctivitis is adenoviruses. Herpetic keratoconjunctivitis (caused by herpes simplex viruses) can be serious and requires treatment with acyclovir. Acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis is a highly contagious disease caused by one of two enteroviruses, Enterovirus 70 and Coxsackievirus A24. These were first identified in an outbreak in Ghana in 1969, and have spread worldwide since then, causing several epidemics.
Symptoms of Pinkeye
The symptoms of pinkeye differ based on the cause of the inflammation, but may include:
- Redness in the white of the eye or inner eyelid.
- Green or white discharge from the eye.
- Itchy eyes.
- Burning eyes.
- Increased amount of tears.
- Thick yellow discharge that crusts over the eyelashes, especially after sleep.
- Blurred vision.
- Increased sensitivity to light.
Treatment For Conjunctivitis (Apollo/Pinkeye)
The treatment for pinkeye depends on the cause.
- Viruses. This type of pinkeye often results from the viruses that cause a common cold. Just as a cold must run its course, so must this form of pinkeye, which usually lasts from four to seven days. Viral conjunctivitis can be highly contagious. Avoid contact with others and wash hands frequently.
- Bacteria. Pinkeye caused by bacteria, including STDs, is treated with antibiotics, in the form of eye drops, ointments, or pills. Eye drops or ointments may need to be applied to the inside of the eyelid three to four times a day for five to seven days. Pills may need to be taken for several days. The infection should improve within a week. Take or use the drugs as instructed by your doctor, even if the symptoms go away.
- Irritants. For pinkeye caused by an irritating substance, use water to wash the substance from the eye for five minutes. Your eyes should begin to improve within four hours afterwards. If the conjunctivitis is caused by acid or alkaline material such as bleach, immediately rinse the eyes with lots of water and call your doctor immediately.
- Allergies. Allergy-associated conjunctivitis should improve once the allergy is treated and the allergen removed. See your doctor if you have conjunctivitis that is linked to an allergy.
How You Can Reduce the Effect of the Symptoms
To relieve the symptoms of pinkeye:
- Protect your eyes from dirt and other irritating substances.
- Avoid the use of makeup.
- Remove contact lenses, if you wear them.
- Non-prescription “artificial tears,” a type of eye drops, may help relieve itching and burning from the irritating substances causing your pinkeye. However, other types of eye drops may irritate the eyes and should not be used, including those promoted to treat eye redness. Note: Do not use the same bottle of drops in an uninfected eye.
Ways You Can Follow Not to Spread Conjunctivitis
If you or your child has conjunctivitis (pinkeye/Apollo)
- Don’t touch or rub the infected eye(s).
- Wash your bed linens, pillowcases, and towels in hot water and detergent.
- Wear eyeglasses instead of contact lenses. Throw away disposable lenses or be sure to clean extended wear lenses and all eyewear cases.
- Avoid sharing common articles such as unwashed towels and glasses.
- Wash your hands after applying the eye drops or ointment to your eye or your child’s eye.
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water.
- Wash any discharge from your eyes several times a day using a fresh cotton ball or paper towel. Afterwards, discard the cotton ball or paper towel and wash your hands with soap and warm water.
- Do not use eye drops in a non-infected eye that were used for an infected one.
- If your child has bacterial or viral pinkeye, keep your child home from school or day care until he or she is no longer contagious. It’s usually safe to return to school when symptoms have been resolved; however, it’s important to continue practicing good hygiene just to be sure.
- Avoid wearing eye makeup.
- Don’t share eye makeup with anyone.
Never wear another person’s contact lenses.
NB: Don’t try to use Alkaline/Base to treat your eyes because it can damage your eye lens and your vision become blur. For example do not use your urine which is alkaline in nature to treat conjunctivitis as it is being practice in some African countries, so don’t try it, it may not work for you and causes you more irritation.