What Is Pink Eye?

Pink eye is the most common term used to describe a red eye or pink in color. This is a very common eye problem and usually is easily treated after an eye exam. Pink eye, also called conjunctivitis is an inflammation of conjunctiva. This is the clear covering of the white part of the eye. The reason it becomes red is because it contains blood vessels. These blood vessels become dilated and the eye looks red or pink. There are many things that cause a red eye. Pink eye is usually associated with inflammation and causes the eye to be red.

Causes of Pink Eye

Viral Conjunctivitis is caused by a virus. This type of is considered to be very contagious. It is a virus very much like the common cold and often associated with an upper respiratory infection or sore throat. Some of the symptoms are watering, tearing, sensitivity to light and itching.  This type shows a fine pinkness to the conjunctiva. This type of pink eye usually resolves on its own after 14 days.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria. Some of the symptoms are a green or yellow discharge, sticky, and some crusting or swelling of the eyelids. Patients will usually complain of scratchy or gritty feeling. This also can be spread by contact and generally is more painful. This type should be treated, if left untreated can cause serious damage to the eye.

Allergic conjunctivitis is cause by pollen, dust, animal dander, cosmetics, dust mites and perfume. These types of things can irritate the eye and cause them to be red. Some of the symptoms are water burning eyes, itchy, some light sensitivity and congestion. The symptoms are cause by a release of histamine. It can be a seasonal or in the case of dust and animal dander can be chronic.

Other types on conjunctivitis are chemical burns, mites, fungus and arthritis. There are more serious conditions that can represent with a red eye. These should be ruled out if conventional treatments are not effective. If you think you have any of these conditions you should have an eye exam.

Treatment of Pink Eye

There are various treatments based on the type and severity. An eye exam is always recommend. Our Eye Doctor can determine which type you have. Viral conjunctivitis can resolve on its own after a number of days. Certain medications can reduce the inflammation of a viral conjunctivitis and the duration can be much shorter. Also I recommend supportive therapy which will aid in the comfort. Bacterial conjunctivitis is usually treated with antibiotics but I also like to reduce inflammation. Allergic conjunctivitis is a bit more difficult to treated. Usually I prescribe allergy medications. These are just basic guidelines. Each case is unique and can require additional modes of therapy.

It is best not to wear your contact lenses till the conditions is completely resolved. Be careful sharing towels with family members, wash your hands and cover your mouth. Don’t rub your eyes and never share contact lenses. If you have seasonal allergies and know approximately when they start to affect you. Early treatment can help reduce the symptoms. Not all red eyes are due to these conditions. If you think you have pink eye please visit our eye care center EyeMechanix.com to schedule an eye exam with our Optometrist.

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