Do you know that Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane of your eye?
This transparent membrane or conjunctiva lines your eyelid and covers the white part of your eyeball.
Moreover, when small blood vessels in the conjunctiva become inflamed, they are more visible.
Thus, it causes the whites of your eye to appear reddish or pink.
Pink eye commonly occurs due to bacterial or viral infection, an allergic reaction.
In the case of babies, it can be due to an incomplete open tear duct.
Though pink eye can be irritating, it rarely affects your vision.
With the help of treatment, you can ease the discomfort it causes.
As pink eye can be contagious, early diagnosis and treatment can help to limit its spread.
Let’s learn more about it in detail.
Symptoms of Pink Eye
Different types of pink eye can cause slightly different symptoms.
However, in general, it is important to consult with your doctor if you start to experience the following:
- pain or red-toned eyes
- a gritty feeling in your eyes
- itchiness in your eye
- abnormal amount of teas
- watery or thick discharge that builds up on your eyes at night
Now let’s discuss the types and causes of conjunctivitis.
Types and Causes of Pink Eye
Generally, there are three main categories of pink eye: infectious, allergic, and chemical.
The infectious pink eye comes in a few different types including bacterial and viral.
Let’s discuss them as follows:
Bacterial: This one occurs due to staphylococcal or streptococcal bacteria.
Moreover, it usually occurs due to things like touching your eyes with unclean hands, sharing makeup, or having physical contact with someone suffering from conjunctivitis.
Vital: On the other hand, this type is due to the common cold virus.
It can occur if someone with an upper respiratory infection coughs or sneezes close to you.
Furthermore, it can also occur when you have a cold virus yourself and blow your nose too hard.
This can push the infection from your respiratory system to your eyes.
In case of allergic conjunctivitis, you will have a pink eye with seasonal allergies.
You can get pink eye when you come in contact with a certain substance you are allergic to like pollen.
Additionally, it is also possible to develop an allergic-type of pink eye: Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis.
This can occur if your wear hard contact lenses, or soft contact lenses that you do not replace frequently.
One of the important things to note is that you can get pink eye from chlorine in pools, air pollution, and exposure to other chemicals.
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How Contagious is Pink Eye?
An important thing to note is that bacterial and viral pink eye is very contagious, according to CDC.
Moreover, it can easily spread from one person to another.
For instance, if someone close to you has viral pink eye and touches their eye and then touches your hand, there is a chance that you can get that as well.
Pink eye is usually contagious for as long as you are having the symptoms.
7 Sings your Pink Eye is Contagious
When pink eye symptoms are still present, you are contagious.
This is true in all cases, except when the cause of pink eye is allergies, which is very common.
7 signs you are still contagious are:
- discharge from eyes
- crusty eyelashes and lids
- swelling around eyes
- burning sensations
- tearing up
- red or pink in the white of your eyes
- irritation of the eyes
It is important to note that a daycare, school, or workplace often requests or requires you or your child to return until the symptoms clear.
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Diagnosing a Pink Eye
In most cases, it is often not difficult for a healthcare professional to diagnose pink eye.
They will typically be able to tell by simply asking a few questions and by looking at your eyes.
For instance, a health care professional might as you if your eyes are itchy and whether you have watery or thick discharge or not.
Moreover, they might also ask you f you are experiencing symptoms of a common cold, hay fever, or asthma.
They may also perform a few tests like:
A vision test to see whether there is any effect on your vision or not.
External eye tissue examination, including conjunctiva, using a bright light and magnification.
Examination of the inner eye to make sure there is no other effect on other tissues.
Furthermore, a conjunctival tissue smear can help to diagnose if you are dealing with chronic pink eye.
It is a condition that does not improve with treatment.
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The treatment of conjunctivitis depends on the cause of it.
Let’s discuss the treatment for each cause.
Chemical Conjunctivitis: Rising your eyes with saline can help to ease the symptoms if you are dealing with this type of pink eye.
Moreover, topical steroids can also be prescribed if the case is severe enough.
Bacterial Conjunctivitis: In this case, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics.
Antibiotics are the most common method of treatment.
Adults often prefer eye drops, however, for children, the ointment may be a better choice as it is easier to apply.
With the use of antibiotics, your symptoms will typically start to disappear in just a few days.
However, it is important to finish your entire prescription to reduce the risk of a pink eye coming back.
Viral Conjunctivitis: In most cases, this one is due to the same virus that causes the common cold.
These cold viruses do not have any treatment however, symptoms are often mild and resolve on their own in 7 to 10 days.
In rare cases, however, viruses like herpes simplex or varicella-zoster might be the cause.
These can be serious infections and have antiviral treatment.
However, you can only use these treatments for specific types of viral infections.
In the meantime, using a warm compress or a cloth moistened with warm water can help soothe the symptoms.
Allergic Conjunctivitis: To treat this one that occurs due to allergens, your healthcare professional will prescribe an antihistamine to stop the inflammation.
Loratadine or Claritin and diphenhydramine or Benadryl are antihistamines available as over-the-counter, OTC medications.
These can help clear your allergic symptoms, including allergic pink eye.
Oher treatments are antihistamine eye drops or anti-inflammatory eye drops.
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One of the important things to note is that mild cases of the pink eye tend to clear up without any medical intervention.
The allergic pink eye often clears as your allergy is controlled.
While pink eye heals, you can use the following:
- cold or hot compress to reduce swelling
- artificial tears to add moisture and ease symptoms
- a clean cloth to wipe your eyes
- eye drops with antihistamines
You should also make sure to clean and disinfect all of your eyewear.
Throw out any disposable contact lenses, throw out old makeup, and avoid using makeup until the infection clears.
Moreover, discontinue using contact lenses while the infection is still present.
You should make sure to see your doctor in severe cases.
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Practicing good hygiene is one of the best ways to avoid and even stop the transmission of conjunctivitis.
Moreover, you can:
Avoid touching your eyes with unwashed hands whenever possible.
Wash your hands often and thoroughly with both soap and water.
Make sure to use only clean tissues and towels to wipe your face and eyes.
Try not to share cosmetics, especially eyeliner or mascara with others.
Furthermore, wash your pillowcases frequently.
In case your healthcare professional thinks that contact lenses are contributing to your pink eye, they may recommend switching to another type of contact lens or disinfectant solution.
Avoid poorly fitted contact lenses and decorative lenses as they may reduce your risk for pink eye.
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Preventing the Transmission of Pink Eye
In case you already have pink eye, you can keep your family and friends safe by doing the following:
Wash your hands regularly.
Avoid sharing towels or washcloths.
Change your towel and washcloths daily.
Replace eye cosmetics after your infection clears.
Follow the advice of your health care professional on contact lens care.
Moreover, take any medication your doctor prescribes.
If case your child has pink eye, it is a good idea to keep them out of school for 24 hours, at least, after they start the treatment.
It will help them to keep away from transmitting pink eye to others.
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One of the important things to note is that in both children and adults, pink eye can cause inflammation in the cornea, which can affect your vision. Prompt evaluation and treatment for eye pain, a feeling that something is stuck in your eye or foreign body sensation, blurred vision, or light sensitivity can help reduce the risk of complications.
It is a common eye condition and can occur due to bacterial or viral, allergic, or chemical relations. However, each type takes a different length of time to clear up. It is important to follow the instructions of your doctor to avoid transmission and treat it to avoid any complications.