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What is common between Madras, the Apollo 11 landing on the moon and the color pink?

What is Conjunctivitis?

Conjunctiva is the transparent membrane that covers the outer surface of your eye along with the inside of your eyelids.
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation (a reaction of your body to any condition that is marked by swelling, redness etc.) of this conjunctiva.



What causes Conjunctivitis?

Viruses: This type produces a typically watery discharge. Your pink eye can be associated with colds or sore throats. It is very contagious.
Bacteria: This type occurs more commonly in children. Like viral conjunctivitis, it can be very contagious and occur along with colds and sore throats. The eye discharge produced is thick and yellow-green.
Allergies: When your body comes in contact with an allergy causing substance like pollen, your body responds by producing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E. These trigger a reaction  that leads to the release of substances called histamines. Histamines produce itchiness, tearing and redness of your eyes.
Chemicals: Watery red eyes can be seen due to irritation caused to the eyes by the splashing of chemicals into the eyes. It can also be caused by irritation due to shampoo, dirt, smoke and pool chlorine.
Foreign object in the eye: This can also cause redness due to irritation.
Blocked tear ducts: This is usually seen in new borns.

Do I have Conjunctivitis? (Signs and Symptoms)

Redness in one or both your eyes (Hence, Conjunctivitis is also called as ‘Pink Eye’)

Itchiness in your eyes

A gritty feeling in your eyes


A discharge from the eyes that crusts overnight

Increased light sensitivity

Blurred vision



What are the tests for Conjunctivitis?

Your doctor will examine your eyes thoroughly.
He/ She may also take a sample of your eye secretions for analysis of the type of infection if it felt necessary.

How is Conjunctivitis treated?

Treatment depends largely on the cause of your red eye:

Bacterial: Antibiotic eye drops are prescribed. Antibiotic ointments may be easier to administer in children suffering from the pink eye.

Viral: There is usually no treatment for viral conjunctivitis. However, if your doctor determines that your pink eye has been caused by the herpes simplex virus, you may be put on antiviral medication.

 Allergic: You need to identify the allergen so that you can avoid it in the future. To treat allergic conjunctivitis, your doctor may prescribe anti- inflammatory, anti-histamine, decongestants or steroid eye drops. However, it is very essential that you use your steroid eye drops only under the supervision of an Ophthalmologist.

What are the precautions to be taken?

Pink eye can spread to other people for 2 weeks after the signs and symptoms begin.

• Do not share your towels with other people.
• Wash your hands often.
• Don’t keep rubbing or touching your eyes frequently.
• Stop wearing your contact lenses until your eyes feel better.
• A cool water compress may help you get relief if you are suffering from allergic pink eye. If it is viruses or bacteria that have caused your conjunctivitis, a warm compress might help you better.

Still wondering where madras and the moon fit in?

Conjunctivitis is common in extreme heat and humidity as these are favorable conditions for the bacteria to thrive. This is why, when Indian tourists visit the south, especially Madras in the summer vacations, they come down with this ailment as they are not used to the heat and humidity. That is why this is known as the Madras Eye.

Conjunctivitis is called as Apollo in Ghana even today, because of an epidemic of Acute Hemorrhagic Conjunctivitis that emerged in Ghana at the same time as the landing of the Apollo 11 on the moon.
Bet you didn’t know that!