People all over the world suffer from red, itchy eyes every day. For many, these are normal symptoms- a simple reaction to the world around us. For others, these symptoms could be indicative of something more serious… a condition that affects more than 3 million Americans annually: pink eye.
What Is Pink Eye?
You may be surprised to learn that “pink eye”, or conjunctivitis, isn’t just one condition that’s caused by one particular thing. Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin, clear tissue that lies over the sclera (the white of your eye) and the inside of your eyelid.
This inflammation, and other symptoms, may be caused by a handful of things. Furthermore, depending on the type of pink eye you have, it could spread to those around you. That’s right, pink eye isn’t just highly uncomfortable. In many cases, it’s highly contagious as well.
Types of Pink Eye
Pink eye is an umbrella term for conjunctivitis that can be caused by a host of things. Here are the most common types of pink eye:
Viral Pink Eye
Viral strains are the most common and the most contagious. This form of pink eye results in frequent tearing (watering of the eye, not ripping) and discharge. Viral pink eye spreads easily due to people, kids especially, touching their eyes for relief and proceeding to touch other surfaces.
Bacterial Pink Eye
Bacterial strains are also contagious, and may infect one or both eyes. Common side effects of bacterial infection include the production of pus and mucus around the eyes. Fortunately, unlike viral pink eye, this form can be treated with antibiotics and should clear up within a few days of treatment. It’s worth noting that pink eye may also be caused by certain STDs, including bacterial infections like gonorrhea and chlamydia.
Allergic Pink Eye
Allergic pink eye is less serious than its relatives, resulting in tearing, itching, and redness. This form clears up as other allergy symptoms lessen, so keep those antihistamines on hand!
Newborn Pink Eye
If your newborn is showing symptoms of pink eye, it’s vital to get them seen by a medical professional as soon as possible. In newborns, pink eye presents as ophthalmia neonatorum, a bacterial infection that requires immediate treatment to avoid long-term damage.
Symptoms to Scout For
Pink eye of any kind is accompanied by a variety of symptoms. Keep an eye out for the most common symptoms, including:
- Blurry vision
- Light sensitivity
Ready For Relief?
Either through medication or with the help of time, pink eye isn’t a permanent condition. In addition to antibiotics, relief from pink eye comes down to cleanliness. To lessen your recovery time (or to ease your symptoms), follow these rules:
- Keep your eyes clean by washing away discharge with warm water.
- Wash your pillowcases daily until the infection goes away.
- Don’t touch or rub your eyes, even if you really want to.
- Don’t share makeup, brushes, eye drops, or contact lenses.
- Hold a warm compress to your eye two to three times a day for a few minutes at a time.
- Protect your eyes from dirt and other irritants like hairspray and dust.
- Avoid non-prescription eye drops, as they may irritate your eyes further.
Worried you might be suffering from the pink eye? The professionals at Gilbert Eyecare are here to help. If you’re experiencing symptoms like the ones described above, schedule an appointment OR you can call us at (757-622-0200) or (757-425-0200) to be seen by our team.