Conjunctivitis, also referred to as pink eye, is one of the most common eye diseases, especially when it comes to kids. Conjunctivitis can be caused by viruses, bacteria or irritation from ingredients in cosmetics, pollen, and chlorine in pools, or other irritants, which penetrate the eyes. Certain forms of conjunctivitis can be very contagious and rapidly cause a pink eye outbreak at schools and at the office or home.
This kind of infection develops when the thin clear layer of tissue covering the white part of your eye, or conjunctiva, gets inflamed. A sign that you have the infection is if you notice redness, itching, discharge, or inflamed eyelids and eyes that are crusty in the morning. Pink eye infections can be divided into three main categories: bacterial, allergic and viral conjunctivitis.
The viral manifestation is usually caused by a similar virus to that which produces the familiar watery and red eyes, sore throat and runny nose of the common cold. Symptoms of viral conjunctivitis will usually be present for one to two weeks and like other viruses cannot be treated with medication. If you feel discomfort, compresses applied to the eyes will give you some relief. Viral conjunctivitis is contagious until it's gone, so meanwhile, remove any discharge and try to avoid sharing towels or pillowcases. If your child has viral pink eye, he or she will have to stay home from school from school for three days to a week until it clears up.
A bacterial infection such as Staphylococcus or Streptococcus is usually treated with antibiotic eye drops or cream. One should see an improvement after just a few days of antibiotic drops, but be sure to follow the complete antibiotic prescription to stop conjunctivitis from coming back.
Conjunctivitis due to allergies is not contagious. It is usually a result of a known allergy such as pollen, pet dander or smoke that triggers an allergic response in their eyes. First of all, to alleviate the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis, the irritant itself must be removed. For mild cases, try artificial tears or compresses. In more severe cases, your eye doctor might give you a prescription for an anti-inflammatory or antihistamine. In cases of chronic allergic conjunctivitis, steroid eye drops could be used.
In all cases of pink eye, implementing proper hygiene is the best way to prevent it from getting worse. Try not to touch your eyes, and if you do, be certain to wash your hands thoroughly.
Even though conjunctivitis is usually a highly treatable condition, there is sometimes a chance it could develop into a more threatening problem. Any time you notice symptoms of conjunctivitis, be certain to have your optometrist take a look in order to decide how to best to treat it.