What Causes Madras Eye?

“Madras eye” is a colloquial term used to refer to conjunctivitis, which is the inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin clear tissue that covers the white part of the eye and lines the inner surface of the eyelids. The medical term for conjunctivitis is simply “conjunctivitis.” It can be caused by various factors, including infections, allergies, irritants, and other underlying conditions. Here are some common causes of conjunctivitis:

  1. Bacterial Infections: Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by bacterial infections, commonly by bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, or Haemophilus influenzae. It can lead to symptoms like redness, discharge, and a gritty sensation in the eye.
  2. Viral Infections: Viral conjunctivitis is often caused by viruses like adenoviruses. It can cause redness, watery discharge, and a sensation of “pink eye.” Viral conjunctivitis can be highly contagious.
  3. Allergies: Allergic conjunctivitis is triggered by allergens such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, or certain chemicals. It leads to red, itchy, and watery eyes, along with other allergy symptoms.
  4. Irritants: Exposure to irritants such as smoke, pollution, chemicals, or contact lenses that aren’t properly cleaned can cause irritation and inflammation of the conjunctiva.
  5. Chemical Exposure: Direct exposure to irritant or corrosive chemicals can cause chemical conjunctivitis, leading to severe eye irritation and redness.
  6. Foreign Bodies: If a foreign object, such as dust, debris, or an eyelash, gets trapped in the eye, it can cause irritation and conjunctivitis.
  7. Chlamydial or Gonococcal Infections: These sexually transmitted infections can lead to a severe form of conjunctivitis, especially in newborns born to infected mothers.
  8. Autoimmune Conditions: Conditions like systemic lupus erythematosus or Stevens-Johnson syndrome can cause conjunctivitis as part of a broader inflammatory process.
  9. Vernal Keratoconjunctivitis: This is a type of severe allergic conjunctivitis that often occurs in young people and is characterized by intense itching, redness, and thick discharge.
  10. Dry Eye Syndrome: In some cases, chronic dry eyes can lead to irritation and inflammation of the conjunctiva.

The term “Madras eye” might be used informally in certain regions to describe conjunctivitis, but it’s not a medical term. If you suspect you have conjunctivitis or are experiencing symptoms like redness, itching, discharge, or discomfort in your eyes, it’s advisable to seek medical attention. A healthcare professional can accurately diagnose the underlying cause of your symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment, which might involve artificial tears, antihistamines, antibiotics (if it’s a bacterial infection), or other interventions depending on the cause.