Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is really common, and something that you or someone in your household is likely to get at some point. The conjunctiva is the clear membrane that covers the white of your eye, and if the blood vessels inside this membrane become inflamed, your eye will appear pink, hence the name. Here is some useful information on what causes pink eye and how you can treat it…
One cause of conjunctivitis is a virus, similar to that of the common cold. With viral conjunctivitis or pink eye, you have to be really careful as it is incredibly contagious and can be spread by coughing and sneezing. With viral conjunctivitis, your eyes will be watery and itchy and you may find that your eyes are sensitive to light. This can affect just one eye or both eyes. It is unlikely that you will need any treatment if you have this type of conjunctivitis, and it’s just a case of waiting it out.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is more serious as it can cause real damage to the eye if left untreated. Unlike the viral pink eye, with bacterial conjunctivitis, you tend to get a sticky discharge which can range in color from yellow to green, and if severe enough, you may find that your eyelids stick together when you first wake up – not pleasant. Again, this can be quite contagious, usually by direct contact, so make sure you don’t share any washcloths and clean your hands thoroughly before touching anyone else. It’s best to see an eye doctor if you have these symptoms as you are likely to need eye drops or ointments to help heal the eye and the longer you leave it, the worse it will get.
Allergic conjunctivitis can be caused by seasonal allergies such as pollen, or dust and pet dander. It can be really itchy and uncomfortable. Of course, this isn’t contagious but your eyes will likely feel very sore, watery, and itchy, as well as being sensitive to light and you might find that your nose is runny too. Treating allergic conjunctivitis involves the usual allergy medication, such as drops or pills. You may find that you need to start this treatment before allergy season to prevent it from getting to that point.
Children are particularly susceptible to pink eye, especially as it can be so contagious, so if your child does get it, it’s important to inform school or daycare. You can help lessen the risk by ensuring hands are washed thoroughly, frequently, and never sharing items such as washcloths or towels. Wear goggles when you’re swimming to avoid bacteria in the water, and if you are someone who wears contact lenses, be careful to keep your lenses clean and do not wear them while showering. Change your lens solution regularly as directed by your eye doctor, or use daily disposable contact lenses to lower the risk of getting bacteria in your eye.