Pink eye is the common term given for the condition, conjunctivitis. It is the infection or inflammation affecting the conjunctiva. When the conjunctiva becomes inflamed, the small blood vessels in your eyes become more visible. So, it causes your whites of the eyes to appear pinkish or reddish in color. Some form of the disease is contagious. So, the condition can spread from one person to another. The infection affects people of all ages. But, it is more prevalent among children of the school. Read ahead to know more about the condition in detail. It will help you take the necessary precautions and other remedies to deal with the problem.
What Is Pink Eye?
Pink eye causes the inflammation of the thin, transparent membrane of your eye known as the conjunctiva. It lines your eyelid as well as covers the entire white part of your eyeball. So, the inflammation can make the small blood vessels in the region more pronounced. It makes the eyes look pink or red in color. Conjunctivitis does not affect your vision, but it can cause irritation. You can opt for some steps to ease the discomfort associated with the eye problem. Diagnosing the problem early can help you get treatments to limit its spread.
Causes Of Pink Eye
Several issues can trigger conjunctivitis. The different reasons leading to the inflammation of the conjunctiva are:
- Allergic reaction to dust, pollen or smoke
- Foreign objects in your eye causing irritation
- A blocked tear duct in newborns
Types Of Pink Eye
Depending on the underlying cause, you can distinguish the problem into three different types. The contagious nature of the problem depends on the root cause of the pink eye. So, the different types are:
Viral And Bacterial Conjunctivitis
The virus or bacteria attacking your body can cause conjunctivitis. You can suffer from a common cold or respiratory infection. It can lead to the inflammation of the conjunctiva. At times, using an uncleaned contact lens can also result in bacterial conjunctivitis. Both forms of conjunctivitis can spread easily from one person to another. It can spread with direct or indirect contact of the liquid coming from the infected person’s eyes. The highly contagious problem can affect one or both eyes.
As the name suggests, any allergic reaction in your body can trigger the inflammation. It affects both the eyes. It is your body’s response to the allergens that attacks your body. In most cases, pollen, smoke, dust, etc. can trigger such reactions. To counteract the allergens, your body produces an antibody. The antibody known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) can trigger mast cells. The mast cells are the special cells in the airways as well as the lining of the eyes. So, the mast cells can release inflammatory substances, which also includes histamines. When the body produces histamines, you can see different signs or symptoms associated with it. The problem can result in intense itching, pink eye, sneezing, nasal discharge, etc.
Conjunctivitis Due To Irritation
The irritation from a foreign object or chemical splash in your eyes can cause conjunctivitis. You need to flush out the foreign object or chemical completely from the eyes to get rid of it. So, you can reduce the redness and irritation due to the problem by just flushing your eyes. The problem accompanies with other symptoms like mucus discharge and watery eyes. It can clear up after some hours or within a day.
In some cases, the flushing may not remove the chemical or foreign objects. Then, it can cause permanent damage to your eyes. So, you need to see your doctor as soon as possible. The presence of the foreign object in your eyes can make you scratch your eyes. So, it can cause damage to the eyes as the foreign object can scratch the cornea.
Symptoms Of Pink Eye
The symptoms of the pink eye depend on the type of inflammation. So, you can suffer from the following issue:
- Redness in one eye or sometimes both eyes
- Swollen conjunctiva
- More Tears
- Itchiness in eyes
- Thick yellow discharge in one or both eyes that crusts over the eyelashes during the night. It makes the eyelids closed when you try to open your eyes in the morning.
- Burning sensation in your eyes
- White/green discharge of eyes
- Gritty feeling in your eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Swollen lymph nodes occurring due to viral infection
- Blurred vision
When Should You See A Doctor For Pink Eye
The mild cases of the problem need no medical attention. It mostly goes away on its own after some time. But, some serious conditions can alter the color of your eyes. You will also experience severe discomfort associated with the problem. So, go to a doctor immediately when you observe the following conditions:
The signs indicate that the underlying cause triggering the pink eye is more serious. So, you need medical attention, it is also necessary for people who wear contacts to maintain caution. It is better to stop wearing the contact lens when you first notice the signs of conjunctivitis. If it does not get better within 12 to 24 hours, then you need to make an appointment with your eye doctor. With the expert suggestions and treatment, you can prevent the problem from escalating.
Risk Factors Associated With Pink Eye
Not everyone gets affected by conjunctivitis. Only people who get exposed to the following can suffer from the issue more compared to others:
- Your exposure to something that can trigger an allergic reaction in your body
- Exposing yourself to people who are infected with the bacterial or viral form of conjunctivitis
- Use contact lens regularly, especially those who use extended wear contact lens
Complications Due To Pink Eye
Pink eye that has serious signs and symptoms needs immediate care attention. In both adults as well as children, conjunctivitis can cause inflammation of the cornea. If left untreated, then the problem can affect your vision adversely. Therefore, when you experience the following signs, get help immediately:
- Severe eye pain
- Foreign body sensation in your eyes
- Problems with vision
- Becoming sensitive to light
The above-mentioned issues indicate something more serious. Therefore, getting medical help immediately can avoid any further complications.
Diagnosis Of Pink Eye
When you feel severe discomfort or trouble keeping up with the normal day-to-day activities due to conjunctivitis, you need to see a doctor. The doctor can use the following diagnostic approaches to detect the issue precisely.
In most cases, the doctor can detect the problem with the physical assessment. The doctor asks you questions regarding your health history and the symptoms you suffer. In most cases, it helps your doctor determine the cause of conjunctivitis. The root issue of the problem is necessary to cure the problem. Therefore, the doctor collects the information to determine the type of conjunctivitis you suffer. Generally, the issue can cause eye redness and/or swelling. But, depending on the cause, you can also see other signs. It helps your doctor come to a proper conclusion.
Eye Discharge Culture
In some rare cases, your doctor may find it difficult to detect the type of conjunctivitis. It is due to the similarity of the symptoms. In such cases, your doctor can take the sample of your eye discharge for testing. The liquid that drains from your eye is collected on a cotton swab. It is then sent to a lab for further analysis. The doctor orders a culture to detect the actual cause of the problem. So, the test can reveal the actual cause of triggering the pink eye.
Treatment For Pink Eye
Depending on the type of problem triggering the pink eye, you need treatment. Therefore, your doctor first determines the actual cause of your conjunctivitis. So, the doctor can suggest the following treatment.
Conjunctivitis Due To Viruses
It is the type of conjunctivitis caused by the common cold. So, just like the common cold, the redness in the eyes can go away after it runs its course. You have to suffer the problem for four to seven days. But, during the time, you need to take necessary precaution to stop its spreading. The problem is contagious in nature. Therefore, your doctor can suggest some home remedies to reduce the discomfort. Try to maintain good hygiene to prevent the escalation of the problem.
Bacteria Triggered Conjunctivitis
If bacteria are the culprit behind the pink eye, then your doctor can suggest antibiotics for relief. The antibiotic medication is available in different forms like:
Apply the eye drops at least three to four times a day for a minimum of five to seven days to see results,
It works just like the eye drops. But, you need to apply it to the inside of the eyelid. Try to apply it for 3 to 4 times daily. The normal course of the medication ranges from 5 to 7 days.
You need to take the pills as suggested by the doctor. The infection may subside after seven days. Remember to continue using the medication even after you see improvement. You need to complete the course of medication as suggested by your doctor.
Irritants Causing Conjunctivitis
You need to clear the irritant out of your eyes to avoid pink eye. Use water for at least five minutes to clear the substance from your eyes. If properly removed, you can get back to normal after four hours. But, for serious irritants like acid or other alkaline materials you need to visit the emergency room right away. You can flush the chemical irritant only with medical help right away. Therefore, get medical attention as quickly as possible.
Conjunctivitis Caused By Allergies
Some allergens can trigger reactions in your body, including pink eye. In such cases, you can overcome the problem by getting treatment for the allergies. Your doctor can prescribe antihistamines in drops or pill form to overcome the allergic reaction. It is better to take eye drops if you have dry eyes as the pills can make your eyes drier. Try to understand the allergies you have and keep away from them. It is always better to seek a doctor immediately when you suspect conjunctivitis occurs due to allergies.
Your doctor suggests frequent monitoring of your eyes. It ensures you conjunctivitis is improving with the medication provided. Therefore, return to your doctor for follow-up checkups to evaluate your progress.
Home Remedies To Cure Pink Eye
Apart from the suggestion offered by your doctor, you can also adopt some home remedies. It can help you cope with the symptoms until the pink or red color goes away from your eyes. Therefore, follow the methods suggested below to get relief from the discomfort associated with the problem:
You can apply a warm compress to your eyes. You can make the compress at home by soaking a lint-free cloth in warm or cold water. Make sure it is clean before using it. You can wring the water before applying on your closed eyelids. The cold compress can offer you relief from the itching or other signs associated with the problem. But, a warm compress can also prove effective in offering your relief. If you have conjunctivitis on just one eye, then never touch the other eye with the same cloth. Avoiding such actions can prevent the infection from spreading.
Use Eye Drops
If you severe itching or feeling of some foreign object in your eyes, then you can use eye drops knows as artificial tears. The over-the-counter eye drops can relieve the symptoms associated with the pink eye. The eye drops contain antihistamines or other medications to offer relief to people suffering from allergic conjunctivitis. It also lubricated the eyes and promotes healing of the inflammation.
Avoid Wearing Contact Lenses
Do you wear contact lens? Then, try to avoid it until your eyes heal completely. The contact lens use while having conjunctivitis can worsen the condition as the bacteria remains in your lens. Therefore, your eyes may not heal properly. Try to go without contact lens till your inflammation subsides. Talk to your doctor about the type of conjunctivitis you suffer. You also need to ask about using the contact lens again. If you do not use the disposable lens, then clean them thoroughly before using it again.
Preventing Pink Eye
The problem also referred to as conjunctivitis can spread from one person to another easily. Therefore, you need to take steps to avoid getting and spreading the highly contagious disease. The following steps can help you in the quest:
Keep Your Hands Clean
You need to keep your hands clean. The virus or bacteria can spread to other parts of the body through your hands. Therefore, wash your hands often. Never touch your eyes with your hands as it can spread the infection. So, keep your hands off the infected eye.
Wash Clothes And Towels
The virus or bacteria can enter your body through the nose and mouth. Therefore, you need to use a clean towel or washcloth every day. Change the pillowcases, bath towels, and handkerchief.
Never Share Cosmetics Or Clothes
You must never share your cosmetics, especially your eye cosmetics. It can spread the infection from one person to another. Therefore, do not part with your mascara, eyeliner, or eye pencil. You must also avoid sharing your contact lens as it can spread the bacteria or virus. Using the eye drops of others can also spread the problem. Try not to use the drops applied to your infected eye in the uninfected eye.
The pink eye is more contagious compared to the common cold. Therefore, it can spread to others easily. It is better to take time off from school or work to prevent the spreading of the infection. You need to maintain good hygiene while recuperating.
Protect Your Eyes
When you go outside, protect your eyes. Therefore, use a sunglass to keep away the dirt, pollutant, and foreign particles from entering your eyes.
Preventing Conjunctivitis In Newborns
While giving birth, a mother’s birth canal exposes the newborn to bacteria. So, a child becomes susceptible to pink eye. But, the bacteria may cause no issue to the mother. The bacteria affects only the child. It can escalate into a serious form of conjunctivitis. The problem also referred to as ophthalmia neonatorum needs immediate medical treatment. Else, the child can suffer from vision loss. To avoid such issues, an antibiotic ointment is applied to the eyes of the newborn. Therefore, the ointment prevents the infection.
The pink eye with mild symptoms can clear on its own with just the home remedies. You can find relief within a few days with good care. Remember to maintain good hygiene to clear the issue easily. But, you need to see a doctor if you have severe symptoms or the problem lasts for weeks. It requires immediate treatment to prevent long-lasting problems. It can scar your cornea or result in loss of vision. Therefore, seek medical advice to get proper treatment and prevent adverse effects. With prompt action and good care, you can handle the problem well.
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