Pink eye, otherwise known as conjunctivitis, is a common eye infection, particularly when it comes to kids. This infection can be caused by bacteria, viruses or allergies to ingredients found in cosmetics, pollen, and chlorine in pools, or other chemicals, which come in contact with your eyes. Many forms of pink eye might be highly transmittable and easily go around at schools and at the office or home.
Pink eye develops when the conjunctiva, or thin transparent layer of tissue covering the white part of the eye, becomes inflamed. You can recognize pink eye if you notice eye redness, discharge, itching or swollen eyelids and eyes that are crusty in the morning. Symptoms of pink eye may occur in one or both eyes. Pink eye infections can be divided into three main sub-types: viral, bacterial and allergic conjunctivitis.
Viral conjunctivitis is usually caused by a similar virus to that which makes us have those familiar red, watery eyes, sore throat and runny nose of the common cold. The uncomfortable symptoms of viral conjunctivitis can last from one to two weeks and like other viruses cannot be treated with medication. Applying compresses to your eyes in a dark room may provide some relief. The viral form of pink eye is contagious until it's gone, so meanwhile, remove any discharge and avoid sharing towels or pillowcases. Children who have viral pink eye will need to stay home for three days to a week until symptoms disappear.
Bacterial pink eye is caused by a common bacterial infection that gets into the eye often from an external carrier such as a finger, makeup or lotion. This form of pink eye is most commonly treated with antibiotic cream or drops. One should see the symptoms disappearing within just a few days of treatment, but always be sure to take the entire course of antibiotics to stop pink eye from coming back.
Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious. It occurs more commonly among those who already have seasonal allergies or allergies to substances such as pets or dust. The red, itchy, watery eyes may be just a small part of a larger allergic reaction. First of all, to alleviate the symptoms of allergic pink eye, the irritant itself needs to be removed. To ease discomfort, cool compresses and artificial tears may help. In more severe cases, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and antihistamines might be prescribed. In cases of chronic allergic conjunctivitis, topical steroid eye drops might be prescribed.
While conjunctivitis is usually a highly treatable condition, there is sometimes a chance it could develop into a more serious issue. Any time you notice symptoms of conjunctivitis, be certain to schedule an appointment with your optometrist in order to see what the best treatment will be.