What is Pink Eye?
Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is an inflammation or infection of the thin clear membrane that covers the inside of your eyelids and the whites of your eyes. It’s a common eye health problem that is usually quite simple to treat and rarely causes any permanent harm to the eyes. However, there is one particular variety of conjunctivitis that can damage your vision if it’s not given proper treatment. Anybody can get pink eye, but people who spend higher amounts of time in close proximity to others are more at risk of getting the contagious types of pink eye.
Pink Eye Symptoms
People commonly refer to conjunctivitis as “pink eye” based on the infected eye’s symptomatic pink color. Additional symptoms will differ depending on the type of pink eye infection:
• Allergic conjunctivitis: Eyes are watery or feel they are burning or itchy, often accompanied by a stuffy or runny nose. Some people also experience light sensitivity. Allergy induced pink eye will usually affect both eyes but isn’t contagious to other people.
• Bacterial conjunctivitis: A sticky eye discharge that is yellow or green in color will collect at the corner of the eye. If the infection is severe, the eyelids may seal shut during sleep. This symptom makes it difficult to open your eyes when you wake. Bacterial pink eye is contagious and usually spreads through direct contact with hands or things that have touched the infected eye.
• Viral conjunctivitis: Eyes are itchy, watery, and may be light sensitive. One or both eyes can be affected simultaneously. This type of pink eye is very contagious and spreads via direct contact with the infection and by sneezing or coughing.
Pink Eye Causes
• Allergic conjunctivitis: Irritants to the eye, such as dust, pollen, or pet dander can cause pink eye for individuals who are vulnerable to these things. This type of pink eye can flare up when seasonal pollen counts are up, or year-round when particulates of dust or animal dander are high.
• Bacterial conjunctivitis: This type of pink eye is caused by bacteria and is contagious. Left untreated, it can cause serious damage to your vision.
• Viral conjunctivitis: This type of pink eye is caused by a virus in similar manner to a head cold. It is highly contagious but tends to resolve and clear without treatment after several days.
Pink Eye Treatment
Once a proper diagnosis has been given, your doctor can prescribe treatment or make recommendations.
• Allergic conjunctivitis: Allergy medications may help you to reduce or avoid allergy pink eye flare-ups altogether.
• Bacterial conjunctivitis: Your doctor will prescribe antibiotic ointments or pink eye eye drops to treat this type of pink eye infection. Be sure to follow your doctor’s treatment instructions as this version of conjunctivitis can be damaging without medical care.
• Viral conjunctivitis: Typically, this type of pink eye will resolve on its own after several days without any medical intervention. You may be able to get relief by pressing a cool, wet cloth onto the eyes whenever symptoms are acute.
If you have contracted pink eye and are experiencing symptoms that require medical attention, call our office for a conversation with one of our qualified eye doctors.