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City of Banjul
Friday, April 12, 2024


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By Isatou Nyang,
5th year medical student

UTG Medical Students’ Association

A term that most Gambians and if not all have used at one point of their lives. So many expressions used by people. “Bul ma holl danga am apollo” thinking that you can have it by looking directly into someone’s eyes.

Apollo like many would say is Conjunctivitis in English term. Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva. ‘Conjunc’ is for conjunctiva and ‘itis’ meaning inflammation.

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Conjunctivitis is also known as pinkey eye in some parts of the world. The conjunctiva lies over the white part of the eye, it is thin and clear and lines the eyelids.

Most people affected are usually school going children and are more at risk due to how contagious (spread from one person to another, typically by direct contact) it is.

It would not badly affect someone’s vision if it’s detected and treated quickly.

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Several things could cause it including;

o          Viruses, including those that cause common cold.

o          Irritants such as shampoos, dirt, smoke and pool chlorine.

o          A reaction to eye drops

o          An allergic reaction to things like pollen, dust, smoke or contact lenses.

o          Parasites, fungi, amoeba


People can get conjunctivitis by coming into contact with the tears or discharges from the eyes of an infected person and then touching their own eyes.

Also conjunctivitis, when associated with an upper respiratory infection (common cold), can be spread by droplets (e.g., coughing, sneezing)

Conjunctivitis sometimes results from a sexually transmitted infection. Gonorrhoea can cause a rare and dangerous bacterial conjunctivitis that can lead to vision loss if not treated.

Pinkeye cause by bacteria and viruses can pass easily from person to person but no serious health risk if diagnosed rapidly.


o          Redness in the white part of the eye. This may be due to allergic reaction.

o          Itchy eyes

o          Burning eyes

o          Blurred vision

o          Clear or yellow discharge that makes the eyelids stick together especially in the morning

o          Swelling of eyelids

o          More tears than usual

o          Sensitive to light

Types of pinkeye

o          Viral strains- these are the most common and can be the most contagious. Causes tearing and mostly starts with one eye.

o          Bacteria- usually affects one eye and the eye produces lots of mucus.

o          Allergic types- produces itching, redness and tearing in both eyes.

o          Opthalmic neonatorum- an eye infection that occurs within the first 30 days of life. usually affects newborns. It is caught during birth by contact with the mother’s birth canal that is infected with a sexually-transmitted disease. The infection may be bacterial, chlamydial or viral. Get it treated right away to prevent permanent eye damage.

How to relieve symptoms of pinkeye

o          Wash your hands with soap and warm water, especially before eating.

o          Keep your eyes clean. Wash any discharge from your eyes several times.

o          Wash or change your pillow case everyday until the infection goes away.

o          Don’t rub or touch your infected eye with your fingers. Use tissues instead.

o          Don’t wear or never share, eye drops, eye makeup.

o          Limit eye drops.

o          Protect your eye from dirt or anything that irritates it.

If Your child has Pinkeye keep them home from school until they are no longer contagious. It’s usually safe to return to school when the symptoms are gone.


It usually clears on its own or after you take medications your doctor prescribes.

Mild conjunctivitis is almost harmless but some forms can be serious and sight threatening.


The following are steps to take to feel better if you have Pinkeye

o          Use a compress- soak a clean cloth in cool water, wring it gently and press it gently on close eyelids.

o          Use eye drops- using over the counter eye drops can help in itching.

o          When it becomes severe contact your doctor and seek treatment.

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