Conjunctivitis, informally called pink eye, is one of the most frequently encountered eye diseases, particularly in children. This condition can be caused by a virus, bacteria or sensitivities to pollen, chlorine in pools, and ingredients found in cosmetics, or other irritants, which penetrate your eyes. Certain forms of conjunctivitis are very transmittable and swiftly infect many people in close proximity such as at schools and at the home.
This kind of infection is seen when the conjunctiva, or thin transparent layer of tissue that protects the white part of the eye, gets inflamed. A sign that you have pink eye is if you notice eye itching, redness, discharge or inflamed eyelids and a crusty discharge surrounding the eyes early in the day. Conjunctivitis infections can be divided into three basic sub-types: viral, allergic and bacterial conjunctivitis.
Viral conjunctivitis is often caused by the same type of virus that produces the recognizable watery and red eyes, sore throat and runny nose of the common cold. Symptoms of the viral form of conjunctivitis will often last from seven to fourteen days and like other viruses cannot be treated with medication. You may however, be able to alleviate some of the symptoms by using soothing drops or compresses. The viral form of conjunctivitis is contagious until it is completely cleared up, so in the meantime wipe away discharge and avoid using communal pillowcases or towels. Children who have viral pink eye should be kept home for three days to a week until they are no longer contagious.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by a common bacterial infection that enters the eye typically from something external entering the eye that is carrying the bacteria, such as a dirty finger. This type of pink eye is most commonly treated with antibiotic cream or drops. Usually one should notice the symptoms disappearing after three or four days of treatment, but make sure to take the entire course of antibiotics to stop pink eye from recurring.
Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious or infectious. It usually occurs among people who already suffer from seasonal allergies or allergies to substances such as pets or dust. The allergic symptoms in the eyes may be just one aspect of their overall allergic reaction. The first step in relieving allergic conjunctivitis is to remove the irritant, if applicable. To ease discomfort, cool compresses and artificial tears may help. When the infection is more severe, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and antihistamines might be prescribed. In cases of chronic allergic conjunctivitis, topical steroid eye drops might be tried.
Although conjunctivitis is typically a highly treatable eye infection, there is sometimes a chance it could worsen into a more serious issue. Any time you have signs of pink eye, be certain to visit your optometrist in order to decide what the best treatment will be.