What is Pink Eye?
Conjunctivitis is the inflammation or irritation of the conjunctiva, the clear mucous membrane that envelopes the rest of the eye. When the conjunctiva is inflamed it turns the eye pink since it holds all of the eye’s blood vessels, nicknaming the condition “pink eye”.
Pink eye is common in daycares, schools, and college campuses. To prevent the spread of pink eye, it is important to maintain vigilant hand washing and to disinfect anything that could transfer the disease.
While there are a few different forms of pink eye, each causes a red, itching, burning eye with occasional discharge. It is essential to determine the type and cause of a patient’s conjunctivitis to ensure proper treatment.
Unfortunately, viral conjunctivitis, the most common type, has no medicinal treatment. It can only be waited out. In this case, the condition can clear in a matter of days. However, it is contagious as long as symptoms persist. It can be passed very easily through any contact with the eye or through shared items like towels and toys.
Bacterial conjunctivitis can be cured with antibiotics. In this case, patients may return to regular activities just 24 hours after the first treatment without the risk of spreading the infection regardless of persisting symptoms.
Pink Eye from Allergies or Foreign Bodies
Pink eye may also be due to allergens or foreign bodies in the eye. This type of pink eye is not contagious. It may cause extra tearing as the body naturally tries to dislodge foreign elements. In this case, Harvard Square Eye Care Professionals may prescribe eye drops or suggest eye washing procedures.
Who is at Risk
While anyone can get pink eye, newborns and children are the most common patients. People who wear contacts face a higher risk of contracting the disease if the lenses are overused or are not cleaned properly. Patients with sensitive eyes may want to consider a case that disinfects contact lenses each night to reduce risk.
Redness is a common symptom of many ocular health issues. It is important to consult your optometrist if you suspect you have pink eye to ensure it is not a symptom of a more serious eye condition.