Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis), Sounds Scary but is a common problem easily Treated and Prevented.
Anyone can get Pink Eye, but Preschoolers, Schoolchildren, College Students, Teachers and Daycare Workers are particularly at risk for the contagious types of Pink Eye because they work closely with others.
What Is Pink Eye?
Pink Eye, also called Conjunctivitis, is inflammation of the thin, clear covering of the white of the Eye and the inside of the Eyelids (Conjunctiva).
Although the Conjunctiva is transparent, it contains Blood Vessels that overlay the Sclera of the Eye. Inflammation will cause these Conjunctival Blood Vessels to dilate. This is what causes red, bloodshot Eyes.
Conjunctivitis can have several causes, but many Doctors use the term “Pink Eye” to refer only to Viral Conjunctivitis, a highly contagious Infection caused by a variety of Viruses.
The primary types of Conjunctivitis, based on cause, are:
- Viral Conjunctivitis. Caused by a Virus, like the common Cold. This type of Pink Eye is very contagious, but usually will clear up on its own within several days without Medical Treatment.
- Bacterial Conjunctivitis. Caused by Bacteria, this type of Conjunctivitis can cause serious damage to the Eye if left untreated.
- Allergic Conjunctivitis. Caused by Eye irritants such as Pollen, Dust and Animal Dander among susceptible individuals. Allergic Conjunctivitis may be seasonal (Pollen) or flare up year-round (Dust; Pet Dander).
Pink Eye Symptoms…
The primary symptom of Pink Eye is an Eye that has a reddish or pink appearance. Other symptoms of Pink Eye depend on the type of Conjunctivitis you have:
- Viral Conjunctivitis.
- Sensitivity to light
- One or both Eyes can be affected
- Highly contagious; can be spread by coughing and sneezing
- Bacterial Conjunctivitis.
- A yellow or greenish-yellow Eye discharge in the Corner of the Eye. In some cases, this discharge can be severe enough to cause the Eyelids to be stuck together when you wake up.
- One or both Eyes can be affected. Contagious (usually by direct contact with Infected Hands or Items that have touched the Eye).
- Allergic Conjunctivitis.
- Often accompanied by stuffiness and a runny nose
- Light Sensitivity
- Both eyes are affected
- Not contagious
Treatment is based on the type…
- Viral Conjunctivitis. In most cases, Viral Conjunctivitis will run its course over a period of several days and no Medical Treatment is required or indicated. A Home Remedy of applying a Cold, Wet Washcloth to the Eyes several times a day can relieve symptoms.
***Due to the highly contagious nature of this type of Pink Eye, be sure not to share this Washcloth or Towel with others!***
- Bacterial Conjunctivitis. Your Doctor typically will prescribe Antibiotic Eye Drops or Ointments for the treatment of Bacterial Conjunctivitis.
- Allergic Conjunctivitis. Allergy medications often can help prevent or shorten bouts of Allergic Conjunctivitis. Sometimes these medications must be started before Allergy Season or Allergy flare-ups begin. Ask your Doctor for details.
Conditions associated with Conjunctivitis include other Eye Infections, dry Eyes and Blepharitis. Also, Bacterial Conjunctivitis sometimes can lead to very serious Eye problems such as a Corneal Ulcers, potentially causing permanent Vision loss if left untreated.
For these reasons, anytime you develop red, irritated eyes, you should call your Doctor immediately.
Pink Eye Prevention…
Here are 10 simple precautions you can take to significantly reduce your risk of getting Pink Eye:
- Never share personal items such as Washcloths, Hand Towels or Tissues.
- Cover your Nose and Mouth when coughing or sneezing, and avoid rubbing or touching your Eyes.
- Never (EVER) share your Color Contact Lenses or Special Effect Contacts with friends.
- Wash your Hands frequently, especially when spending time at school or in other public places.
- Keep a Hand disinfectant handy and use it frequently.
- Frequently clean surfaces such as Countertops, Bathroom Vanities, Faucet Handles and shared Phones with an appropriate Antiseptic Cleaner.
- If you know you suffer from Seasonal Allergies, ask your Doctor what can be done to minimize your Symptoms before they begin.
- If you wear Contacts, be sure to follow the recommendations for Lens Care and Replacement, and use Contact Lens Solutions properly or consider switching to Daily Disposable Contacts.
- When Swimming, wear Swim Goggles to protect yourself from Bacteria and other Microorganisms in the Water that can cause Conjunctivitis.
- Before Showering, using a Hot Tub or being in Water of any kind, remove your Contact Lenses to avoid trapping Bacteria between your Eyes and the Lenses.
The Number One thing you can due to prevent Pink Eye…
WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY!
Wash your Hands often, to keep Viral Pink Eye from spreading.
Despite these precautions, you may still develop Pink Eye. If the problem is contagious Pink Eye, be considerate of others and do your part to keep the Infection from spreading.
If your Child is affected, tell his or her Teacher about the Infection so extra steps can be taken to Sanitize the Classroom or Day Care Center. Also, keep your Child Home until the contagious stage has passed.
Your Doctor can let you know when you or your Child can again mingle with others without risk of spreading contagious Pink Eye — usually about three to five days after the diagnosis.
And remember: Because a red or pink eye can be a Symptom of many different types of Eye problems, make sure you consult with your Doctor as soon as possible.
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