Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is a common infection that can seem scary when it occurs unexpectedly. Pink eye irritates the eyelid's interior and eyeball's surface, resulting in a distinct pink coloration. It also results in inflammation, itching, and fever-like warmth on the eyelids.
What Is Pink Eye?
Pink eye is an inflammation and redness of the membranes on the interior of the eyelids and the transparent membrane covering the white part of the eye. Conjunctivitis often results from a bacterial or viral infection. However, underlying diseases, chemical agents, and allergies can also play a role.
Is It Infections?
Both bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are highly contagious. The infection quickly spreads by sharing an object with someone with pink eye or poor handwashing practices. It can also spread through sneezing and coughing. Children with infectious conjunctivitis should stay out of daycare or school until the condition heals. On the other hand, chemical and allergic pink eye are not contagious.
Symptoms of Pink Eye
· Red, Swollen Eyelids
Symptoms of bacterial conjunctivitis usually begin in one eye and spread to the other eye within a few days. However, symptoms of viral conjunctivitis affect both eyes simultaneously. In both cases, they usually include red, swollen eyes and itching. Allergic and bacterial pink eye often causes swelling of the eyelids.
Conjunctivitis can cause mild sensitivity to light. Sometimes, you may experience symptoms like severe light sensitivity, changes in eyesight, or severe pain. In such cases, your infection is spreading beyond the conjunctiva. You may also have an inflammation or infection inside your eye. Either way, you should visit your eye doctor as soon as possible.
A watery, clear discharge is a common symptom of allergic and viral conjunctivitis. When there is so much drainage that appears more yellowish-green, it is likely bacterial conjunctivitis. The discharge may accumulate as you sleep, causing you to wake up with crusty eyelids or with your eyes stuck shut.
Doctors often diagnose this condition by assessing its distinguishing symptoms and signs. Sometimes, a slit lamp exam can help make an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor may send a swab of your eye discharge to a lab to determine the exact cause of your pink eye.
It is not always necessary to seek medical treatment for pink eye. Artificial tears and cold compresses can help relieve some of the dryness and inflammation caused by this condition. You should seek medical treatment if you have conjunctivitis accompanied by pain, intense eye redness, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and a weakened immune system. Treatment usually depends on the cause.
Viral Pink Eye
Most cases of viral pink eye are mild and usually clear up within two weeks without treatment or any long-term consequences. However, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medication to treat severe forms of viral conjunctivitis.
Bacterial Pink Eye
Mild cases may often clear up within one week without antibiotic treatment and complications. In more severe cases, doctors may prescribe a topical antibiotic, usually given as an ointment or eye drops.
Allergic Pink Eye
Pink eye caused by an allergen usually clears up by removing the allergen. Allergy medications and eye drops can also provide relief. Sometimes, doctors recommend a combination of drugs to improve symptoms.
For more on conjunctivitis, visit Centennial Family Eyecare at our Las Vegas or Henderson, Nevada offices. Call (702) 941-7800, (702) 803-2020, or (702) 299-6200 to schedule an appointment today.