Conjunctivitis (more commonly known as pink eye) is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva (a transparent membrane) that lines the white part of your eye and the inside of the eyelids. When the tiny blood vessels in the conjunctiva become inflamed, the result is the whites of your eyes looking reddish or pink.
The condition is usually caused by a bacterial or viral infection, or an allergic reaction. Though it can be very irritating, conjunctivitis rarely affects a person’s vision. Since the condition can be contagious, it is important to get diagnosed and treated by an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist as early as possible to prevent spreading it to others.
What Are The Symptoms Of Conjunctivitis?
The most common symptoms of conjunctivitis include the following in one or both eyes:
- Itching or burning sensation
- A gritty feeling (foreign body sensation)
- Increased tear production
- Discharge of pus or mucus that forms a crust while you sleep that may make it difficult to open your eyes when you wake up
What Are The Causes Of Conjunctivitis?
There are several factors that may cause conjunctivitis. These may include:
- A chemical solution splashed in the eye
- Foreign objects in the eye
- A blocked tear duct (typically in newborns)
What Are The Different Types Of Conjunctivitis?
Viral Conjunctivitis: This type of conjunctivitis can occur with a cold, flu, or other respiratory infection and usually begins in one eye, spreading to the other eye within days. Any discharge associated with this form is typically more watery than thick.
Bacterial Conjunctivitis: This type is more commonly associated with discharge of pus, which can lead to the eyelids sticking together. It sometimes occurs in conjunction with an ear infection.
Allergic Conjunctivitis: This usually occurs in both eyes and can produce intense itching, burning, tearing, and swelling in the eyes. It may even occur along with symptoms of allergies, like sneezing, scratchy throat, itchy nose, or asthma.
What Are Risk Factors For Developing Conjunctivitis?
Risk factors for conjunctivitis include:
- Exposure to something you’re allergic to (allergic conjunctivitis)
- Exposure to a person infected with viral or bacterial conjunctivitis
- Wearing contact lenses, especially extended-wear lenses
What Are Some Complications Involved With Conjunctivitis?
In children and adults, conjunctivitis can cause inflammation in the cornea that can potentially negatively affect vision. Prompt evaluation and treatment by your doctor for eye pain, a foreign body sensation, blurred vision, or light sensitivity can greatly reduce the risk of complications.
How Is Conjunctivitis Treated?
Treating conjunctivitis usually depends on the type you have.
For viral conjunctivitis, there are no specific treatments. Your body will fight off the virus on its own, but a cool, wet washcloth applied to the eyes can help with any discomfort.
With bacterial conjunctivitis, your eye doctor may prescribe antibiotic drops depending on how severe your symptoms are.
Conjunctivitis brought on by allergies may eased with certain eye drops recommended or prescribed by your doctor.
If the conjunctivitis is caused by a chemical or other substance in your eye, the eye must be rinsed with clean water immediately and thoroughly. Consult with an eye care professional right away if rinsing doesn’t alleviate the problem. Certain eye drops or ointments may be recommended.
Conjunctivitis usually goes away on its own within one to two weeks. If your symptoms last longer than that, you should see your doctor at EyeCare Optical as soon as possible. He or she can check to see if you have a more serious eye condition.
How Do I Prevent The Spread Of Conjunctivitis?
Practicing good hygiene is essential in controlling the spread of conjunctivitis. For instance:
- Refrain from touching your eyes with your hands.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often.
- Use a clean towel and washcloth daily.
- Don’t share towels or washcloths with others.
- Wash and change your pillowcases often.
- Throw away eye cosmetics used during a flare up, such as mascara.
- Never share eye cosmetics or other personal eye care items.
Conjunctivitis is no more contagious than the common cold, so it’s usually okay to return to work, school or childcare if you’re unable to take time off — just be sure stay consistent in your good hygiene practices.
People Over The Age Of 50 Should See An Eye Care Professional Every Year.
Schedule your appointment with us today by calling (865) 584-0905. The board-certified Optometrists at EyeCare Optical are standing by, ready to offer personal care and state-of-the-art technology with convenient offices in Knoxville, Farragut, Hardin Valley, Maryville, Oak Ridge and Sevierville.