Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is basically an inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane lining your eyelid (conjunctiva). When blood vessels in this area become inflamed, they cause the whites of your eyes to look reddish or pink. Typically caused by an allergic reaction, bacterial or viral infection, or a blocked tear duct (in babies), pink eye is irritating but rarely impacts your vision.
Prompt treatment can ease the discomfort, to be sure, but the main reason to be treated right away is because pink eye is very contagious. Help limit its spread by getting diagnosed and treated as soon as you can. This is especially true of young children who attend daycare or school, which can become breeding grounds for infection.
According to the Mayo Clinic, common pink eye symptoms, in one or both eyes, include:
- Gritty feeling
- Discharge that may form a crust during the night
Because there are many serious eye conditions that may cause redness, you should always seek out the care of a doctor. Don’t self-diagnose at home. If you wear contacts, stop wearing them if you have pink eye symptoms. If your symptoms don’t improve within 24 hours, go to your eye doctor to get treated and to rule out a more serious eye infection that relates to your contact lens use.
The cause of your pink eye can stem from many different sources, such as:
- Chemical splash
- Foreign object in the eye
- Blocked tear ducts in newborns
Symptom relief is the main goal of pink eye treatment. Your doctor may prescribe you some artificial tears and tell you to regularly clean your eyelids with a wet cloth. You may also apply cold or warm compresses as needed throughout the day. Throw out the contacts you were wearing when the symptoms first showed up. Once the infection clears completely, start wearing a brand new pair.
Replace eye makeup you may have used before your diagnosis. Sometimes you may need antibiotic eyedrops, but not always, as conjunctivitis is usually viral and antibiotics will not help. In fact, they could be harmful because they reduce their effectiveness in the future or bring on a medication reaction. Usually the bottom line for treatment is that the virus needs time to run its course, which can take two to three weeks.
In most cases, viral conjunctivitis begins in one eye and then spreads to the other eye within days. Symptoms should clear on their own. If, upon examination by your doctor, it’s found that your viral conjunctivitis stems from the herpes simplex virus, he or she will prescribe antiviral medications.
Contact Simon Eye Associates
Contact us at 302-239-1933 if you suspect you have pink eye. We can have you feeling better in no time.