Pink eye is an eye problem that affects people of all ages but is more common among children. The conjunctiva covers the sclera (white of the eye) and lines the inner eyelid. It helps keep the eyes moist.
When it becomes inflamed, the patient experiences itching, a burning sensation, redness, eye discharge, and excessive tearing. The type of inflammation may differ, but pink eye heals independently in most cases.
There are different types of eye inflammation that cause pink eye. Bacteria, viruses, allergens, or irritants can cause the condition.
Viral pink eye is the most common and highly contagious form. It is linked to colds and airway infections and spreads through the air or through direct contact.
Bacterial pink eye is spread through direct contact. Allergic pink eye is associated with allergies and is caused by allergens such as pollen and dust.
Symptoms of pink eye often vary in individuals and can be mild or severe.
Itching or burning sensation
Redness on the white of the eye or the inner eyelid
A gritty sensation in the eyes
Thick discharge over the eyelids
Sensitivity to light
The condition usually affects one eye, but it can affect both in some cases. Pink eye is not painful, but it is uncomfortable.
If pink eye fails to improve after a few days, it is vital to get medical attention. You should also see a doctor if it includes symptoms such as pain or fever. If you experience severe eye redness or loss of vision, seek urgent medical attention. It could be a sign of a worsening bacterial infection that can be a symptom of glaucoma.
Viral and bacterial pink eye is highly contagious and can take one week to heal. Allergic pink eye is not contagious and usually resolves within 24 hours. Treatment will depend on the type of infection.
While viral pink eye usually resolves independently, bacterial pink eye requires antibiotic treatment. The best care for allergic pink eye is to avoid the allergen, but doctors may also recommend allergy pills or eye drops.
You can treat pink eye symptoms at home. Use a clean wet cloth to wipe the eye from inside to outside. Avoid using the same cloth for both eyes. Apply a warm or cold compress over the eyes. Apply eye drops without touching the applicator directly to the eye. Follow the application directions. If you have viral pink eye, antibiotic eye drops will not help.
The best way to avoid pink eye is diligent handwashing. Taking the time to wash your hands thoroughly can help prevent many eye diseases. It is also vital to avoid rubbing your eyes. If you know someone with pink eye, keep your distance to avoid spreading.
For more on seeing an eye doctor for pink eye, visit Eyecare Center Optometrist, PSC, at our Richmond, Lexington, Beattyville, Irvine, or McKee, Kentucky offices. Call (859) 208-2020, (859) 623-6643, (859) 272-2449, (606) 464-8148, (606) 726-9321, or (606) 287-8477 to schedule an appointment today.