Conjunctivitis, also called pink eye, is one of the most frequently seen eye diseases, especially when it comes to kids. This condition can be caused by bacteria, viruses or hypersensitivity to chlorine in swimming pools, ingredients found in cosmetics, and pollen, or other irritants, which touch the eyes. Certain types of pink eye might be very contagious and rapidly go around in school and in the office.
Conjunctivitis develops when the thin clear layer of tissue over the white part of your eye, or conjunctiva, gets inflamed. A good clue that you have the infection is if you notice redness, itching, discharge, or swollen eyelids and crusty eyes early in the day. Pink eye infections can be divided into three basic types: allergic, bacterial and viral conjunctivitis.
Viral conjunctivitis is usually caused by the same virus that produces the recognizable watery and red eyes, sore throat and runny nose of the common cold. The uncomfortable symptoms of the viral form of pink eye are likely to be present for seven to fourteen days 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 transmittable until it is completely cleared up, so meanwhile, practice excellent hygiene, wipe away eye discharge and try to avoid using communal pillowcases or towels. Children who have viral conjunctivitis will need to stay home from school for three days to a week until they are no longer contagious.
Bacterial pink eye is caused by a common bacterial infection that enters the eye often from an external object entering the eye that carries the bacteria, such as a dirty finger. This type of pink eye is most often treated with antibiotic eye drops or cream. Most often one should see the symptoms disappearing within just a few days of treatment, but make sure to adhere to the full antibiotic prescription to stop pink eye from recurring.
Pink eye caused by allergies is not transmittable. It is usually a result of a known allergy such as pollen, pet dander or smoke that triggers an allergic reaction in their eyes. The first step in treating pink eye that is a result of allergies is to eliminate or avoid the irritant, when possible. To ease discomfort, cool compresses and artificial tears may help. When the infection is more severe, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and antihistamines might be prescribed. When the infection lasts for an extended period, topical steroid eye drops may be prescribed.
With any form conjunctivitis, implementing sanitary habits is the best way to prevent it from getting worse. Clean your hands thoroughly and often and don't touch your eyes with your hands.
Although pink eye is often a minor eye infection, it can sometimes deteriorate into a more serious problem. If you have signs of conjunctivitis, be sure to have your eye doctor examine you in order to determine how to best to treat it.