Conjunctivitis, also known as Pink Eye, is a condition of the eyes causing them to be itchy, swollen and irritated. One common symptom is that eyes are crusted shut upon waking due to infected mucous secretions.
Viral conjunctivitis tends to impact both eyes and may follow a cold or respiratory infection. This may be diagnosed based on your recent health history. Lab testing may be required in some cases to determine the severity of the pink eye. Common causes are the herpes simplex virus, varicella-zoster virus (shingles and chickenpox), and rubella (measles). Pink eye often results from hand to eye contact after touching blisters on the skin.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is typically in only one eye and sometimes follows an ear infection. Sometimes, your doctor will take a sample of the discharge and send it for laboratory tests. This is to determine the type of bacteria that is irritating the eyes and causing the infection so that the doctor can treat it more effectively.
Allergic pink eye usually comes from a severe reaction to a food or other allergen. The usual treatments for allergic reactions are antihistamines. Once the allergic reaction is under control, your pink eye will also clear up.
Both bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are generally very contagious.
The most common method of spreading pink eye include:
- Direct contact with the secretions from an infected person (usually through hand-to-eye contact)
- Sometimes the infection, when bacterial, is living in the person’s sinuses and is spread to the affected eye
When cases are mild, the doctor may not require lab tests as the infection is likely to clear on its own. In other cases, you may get a prescription to relieve severe symptoms. A common remedy to relieve irritation and itching is to use artificial tears to hydrate infected eyes. Artificial tears can be purchased without a prescription. Additionally, cold packs can help keep swelling from inflammation under control.
However, seek immediate medical attention for these symptoms:
- Sensitivity to light or blurred vision that doesn’t improve when you remove the excess discharge from your eyes
- Severe pain in the eyes
- Intense redness that may indicate the infection or viral irritation is getting worse
If you get pink eye and already have a compromised immune system, go to your doctor immediately. This includes anyone who has an HIV infection or is undergoing cancer treatment.
For pink eye caused by a viral infection with no complication, your eyes will probably heal in a few day, but it may take as long as two weeks for symptoms to clear entirely.
Pink eye from bacterial conjunctivitis typically persists for much longer. Expect symptoms to last a month or longer.
To prevent re-infection once your eyes are cleared up:
- Throw away eye and face makeup and applicators.
- Discard your contact lens case.
- Discard your contacts.
- Disinfect your eyeglasses and throw away the case.
To learn more information, don’t hesitate to contact Advanced Eyecare Solutions in Bellevue, WA!