Conjunctivitis, colloquially called pink eye, is a frequently seen eye illness, especially with children. Pink eye can be caused by bacteria, a virus or hypersensitivity to chlorine in pools, pollen, and ingredients in cosmetics, or other products that penetrate your eyes. Many forms of pink eye can be very transmittable and quickly spread in school and in the office.
Conjunctivitis ensues when the thin transparent layer of tissue that protects the white part of your eye, or conjunctiva, gets inflamed. You can recognize conjunctivitis if you notice discharge, itching, redness or inflamed eyelids and crusty eyes early in the day. The three main kinds of conjunctivitis are: allergic, bacterial and viral conjunctivitis.
Viral conjunctivitis is usually caused by a similar virus to that which makes us have those familiar red, watery eyes, runny nose and sore throat of the common cold. The uncomfortable symptoms of viral pink eye are likely to stick around for one to two weeks and like other viruses cannot be treated with medication. You may however, be able to relieve some of the discomfort by applying soothing drops or compresses. Viral pink eye is contagious until it's gone, so in the meanwhile practice excellent hygiene, wipe away discharge and try to avoid sharing towels or pillowcases. If your son or daughter has viral conjunctivitis, he or she will have to 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 gets into the eye usually from something external entering the eye that is carrying the bacteria, such as a dirty finger. This form of pink eye is most commonly treated with antibiotic eye drops or cream. You should notice the symptoms disappearing after just a few days of antibiotic drops, but always make sure to follow the full antibiotic prescription to stop conjunctivitis from returning.
Allergic pink eye is not transmittable. It is usually a result of a known allergy such as pollen, pet dander or smoke that triggers an allergic reaction in their eyes. The first step in treating allergic conjunctivitis is to remove or avoid the irritant, if applicable. To ease discomfort, cool compresses and artificial tears may help. In more severe cases, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and antihistamines might be prescribed. In cases of chronic allergic infections, topical steroid eye drops might be used.
Even though conjunctivitis is usually a minor condition, there is sometimes a chance it could worsen into a more serious issue. Any time you think you have conjunctivitis, be certain to see your optometrist so he or she can see how to best to treat it.