Conjunctivitis And Blindness
Most cases of pink eye do not affect vision at all. Occasionally, pink eye may cause blurry vision due to residue of pus or eye discharge on the eye. The conjunctivitis usually clears without any damage to the eyes. However, there are a few types of serious pink eye that can cause permanent damage to the eyes and even blindness.
Viral pink eye caused the herpes simplex virus can cause permanent damage to the eye. Herpes simplex conjunctivitis is sometimes called herpes simplex keratitis or keratitis conjunctivitis. Herpes simplex conjunctivitis may appear like a normal case of conjunctivitis in the beginning. Unlike other types of conjunctivitis, herpes simplex conjunctivitis usually affects one eye. Herpes simplex conjunctivitis may cause inflammation of the cornea, glaucoma, scarring of the cornea, and impaired vision or blindness.
Neonatal conjunctivitis caused by Chlamydia or gonorrhea can become severe enough to cause blindness. In the United States, such cases of neonatal conjunctivitis rarely cause permanent damage since they are treated promptly. The eyes of newborns are routinely treated with an antibiotic ointment or eye drops. If the newborn has been exposed to Chlamydia or gonorrhea during birth, the eyelids may become red and swollen. Further treatment with antibiotics may be necessary.
Adults can also get severe conjunctivitis caused by exposure to gonorrhea or Chlamydia. Most adults who develop conjunctivitis due to gonorrhea or Chlamydia have outbreaks of the disease. Conjunctivitis caused by Chlamydia or gonorrhea needs prompt medical treatment to prevent the development of scar tissue on the eyes. Conjunctivitis from gonorrhea can lead to ulcerating and scarring of the cornea and blindness. Permanent damage to the eyes from gonorrheal conjunctivitis can occur within hours of the onset of symptoms.
Conjunctivitis due to an eye infection of Chlamydia is common in areas of the world marked by poverty and poor hygiene. It can be transmitted from person to person or by flies since flies tend to rest on the eyes of children in impoverished, tropical regions. It is a major health concern in Africa. Conjunctivitis due to Chlamydia is sometimes called trachoma. This eye condition can lead to blindness. Trachoma usually affects both eyes.
Uncontrolled or recurrent severe conjunctivitis from a bacterial infection can cause the interior of the eyes to become infected. This is a condition known as endophthalmitis. If endophthalmitis does not respond to treatment, it can result in blindness or necessitate the surgical removal of the eye.