What is Pinkeye?
Conjunctivitis, commonly referred to as pink eye, is an infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva, the membrane that lines the eyelid and covers the white part of the eyeball. If you are experiencing a case of conjunctivitis that needs treatment, contact Physicians Eye Clinic in Everett, WA today to schedule an appointment.
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Pink Eye Symptoms
Inflammation affects the blood vessels in the eye and gives the eye and a pink or red appearance. Other common symptoms of conjunctivitis include:
- Itchiness in one or both eyes
- A discharge that may become crusty overnight
- Excessive tearing
- A feeling of grittiness in the eye
Conjunctivitis can be highly contagious, for up to several weeks after signs and symptoms have begun. Prompt treatment can protect others from becoming infected.
How is Pinkeye Diagnosed?
Conjunctivitis is often easily diagnosed by examining the eyes and reviewing the related symptoms. A sample of eye secretions may be sent to a lab for further testing if the conjunctivitis seems severe.
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What Causes Pink Eye?
Pink eye can be caused by either a bacterial or viral infection, an allergic reaction, a foreign object in the eye or a blocked tear duct. Conjunctivitis can be contagious, so proper diagnosis and prompt treatment are important.
Who Can Get Conjunctivitis?
Anyone can get conjunctivitis, even newborns and babies. While not as common as a simple cold, pink eye is caused by similar triggers. Bacterial and viral pink eye are highly contagious and can be passed through direct or indirect contact with the fluid that drains from the infected eye. Allergic conjunctivitis can affect any person who has some type of allergy. When an allergen triggers the symptoms of allergies, such as runny nose and watery eyes, the conjunctiva can become red and irritated. Because there is no way to guarantee complete safety from pink eye, people of all ages are encouraged to practice very good hand and face-washing habits.
Why Are Children More Prone to Getting Conjunctivitis?
The majority of cases of pink eye involve children. This isn’t because children’s immune systems aren’t strong or that the virus and bacteria that cause conjunctivitis target children more. It’s simply a matter of exposure. Children tend to be around a relatively wide group of peers at daycare and school. As they go about their days touching others and sharing objects, they also may not be washing their hands as frequently as older kids and adults do. Teaching children to wash and cleanse their hands throughout the day may reduce their risks, but exposure remains a factor.
Can I Do Anything to Reduce Discomfort?
Pink eye can be quite uncomfortable. Home remedies may help soothe the irritation until the infection runs its course. To reduce pink eye discomfort, patients may apply a warm or cool compress to the eyes. This can be done several times a day, taking care to thoroughly clean the cloth in between applications. Eye drops may be used as directed to alleviate the gritty, burning sensation. The doctor may advise against using eye drops formulated to “get the red out.” If conjunctivitis has occurred concurrently with allergies, special antihistamine eye drops may be used to relieve inflammation. Finally, people who wear contact lenses should not wear them until their eyes are completely back to normal health.
Is it True That Once You’ve Had Conjunctivitis, You Get Immune to It?
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as immunity to pink eye. People can get infectious conjunctivitis anytime they are exposed to the offending viruses or bacteria that cause this inflammation. People with allergies are at risk of allergic conjunctivitis simply as a secondary effect of their natural allergic responses. Because it is possible to get pink eye more than once, it is important to practice good hand hygiene and avoid touching the eyes as much as possible.
What Are the Three Main Types of Pink Eye?
There are three main types of conjunctivitis:
- Viral conjunctivitis is the most common and also the most contagious of the three. This type of conjunctivitis is usually caused by an adenovirus.
- Bacterial conjunctivitis is also highly contagious. Similar to viral conjunctivitis, bacterial conjunctivitis typically resolves without medical intervention.
- Allergic conjunctivitis occurs as a histamine response to an allergen. This type of pink eye is not contagious.
Pink Eye Treatment Options
Treatment for pink eye depends on the cause. Bacterial conjunctivitis treatment often includes prescribed antibiotic eye drops or ointment. There is no treatment for viral conjunctivitis and the symptoms eventually ease over time as the virus clears. However, if the viral cause is the herpes simplex virus, antiviral medication may be prescribed. If the cause of the conjunctivitis is allergies, it may be treated with antihistamines to control allergic reactions or decongestants, steroids and anti-inflammatory drops to treat inflammation. Our expert team will provide you with the upmost diligence in determining your treatment plan.
Physicians Eye Clinic proudly serves patients from Everett, Marysville, Snohomish, Mill Creek WA and the surrounding areas. To schedule an appointment in our Everett, WA
office, call us at (425) 259-2020
today or fill out our online contact form
for more information.