pinkeyePink eye is a common condition that will impact most people several times over the course of their lives, and it is very common with children. This condition, which is also known as conjunctivitis, may be in one or both eyes. It is most commonly characterized by symptoms like redness or pinkness in the eye, itchiness, tearing and a generally gritty feeling. Those with pink eye may see a wet discharge or a crusty material forming on the eyelid or lashes, and this is most common upon waking up in the morning. While some may think that they can wait for the condition to clear up, it is best to seek medical attention quickly if you think you may have pink eye.

Different Types of Pink Eye
Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is most commonly caused by either a virus or a bacteria, but it can also be caused by allergies or dry eyes due to excessive wind or sun exposure. Chemical conjunctivitis is caused by fumes, chemicals or cigarette smoke. Most pink eye cases are caused by either the adenovirus or the herpes virus.

The Causes of Pink Eye
While there are some environmental causes of pink eye;

  • Most cases of pink eye are caused by contact with someone who has a viral or bacterial infection or by touching something that they have touched.
  • Typically, someone will touch a hand or surface that has the virus or bacteria on it and that person will then rub their eye to introduce the virus or bacteria to their own eye.

The bacteria and the viruses are highly contagious.

Why Treatment is Needed Quickly
Pink eye is common and is typically not serious, but it can lead to ulcers on the eye and other conditions that ultimately can cause vision loss.

  • For most people, the condition typically will go away on its own within ten days without medical treatment. With this in mind, you may think about not going to a doctor for treatment.
  • However, because it is highly contagious, early treatment generally can minimize the likelihood that those around you will develop the condition as well.
  • It can also reduce the chance of developing complications. Keep in mind that the virus or bacteria can spread when you rub your eye and touch other surfaces that are then touched by your friends and family.
  • Pink eye is very itchy, and it can be difficult to resist scratching your eyes. Early diagnosis and treatment may also help you to feel better quickly.

How to Prevent Pink Eye
It is important to understand all of the causes of pink eye as a first step in preventing it.

  • Some environmental factors can cause pink eye, so wearing protective eye wear or avoiding sunny or windy conditions can be helpful.
  • Avoiding smoky rooms and airing out rooms that have chemical fumes in them can also be helpful.
  • Because most of the cases are caused by viruses and bacteria that are passed from one person to another, it is important to wash your hands regularly and to avoid touching your eyes and face with dirty hands.
  • You may also try to be more aware of those around you and avoid those who have pink eye until their condition has cleared up.

It can be difficult to tell the difference between pink eye and allergies. However, if you have any of the symptoms of pink eye, it is important to seek medical attention soon. A doctor can accurately diagnose the condition and can provide treatment that can reduce the symptoms and that may reduce the amount of time that you have pink eye.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author: Michele Holincheck, FNP