Authored by: Dr. Fareed Ali
From infants, to young children and adults, anyone can suffer from pink eye or conjunctivitis, but no matter your age, everyone should take precautions from pink eye. In simple terms, pink eye is an inflammation of the white part of your eye, as well as the inner eyelids.
It is important to know what kind of pink eye you have contracted in order to know how to treat it and how dangerous it can be to your eyes. It is equally important to know what causes conjunctivitis and how to avoid getting it in the first place.
Symptoms of pink eye or conjunctivitis
It is fairly obvious to determine if you have pink eye or conjunctivitis. One or both of your eyes will look pink. You normally will have discomfort, and depending on the type of conjunctivitis, symptoms include watery, itchy eyes, a yellow-green discharge, and a crusty film in your eyes after sleeping, causing the eyelids to stick together.
It is important for a patient to consult an eye specialist, like Dr. Armogan, to determine which type of pink eye they have. Some kinds of conjunctivitis are extremely contagious and others can be very dangerous to your vision.
Who is most susceptible to conjunctivitis?
- Young children in a daycare setting or at school
- Those who wear contact lenses
- Those who suffer from seasonal allergies or dry eyes
Common types of conjunctivitis
Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious and usually will last several days. Caused by a virus, patients are sensitive to light and have watery and itchy eyes. There is no real treatment for this type of pink eye. Cold washcloths placed on the eyes several times a day will relieve the symptoms.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is a more serious kind of condition. These symptoms, caused by bacteria, include a discharge from the corner of the eye, and you may wake up with your eyelids stuck together. It is also a contagious form of pink eye, spread especially by touching the eyes with infected hands and fingers. It is important to see an eye specialist to be treated with an antibiotic ointment or drops. Bacterial conjunctivitis is quite dangerous, develops rapidly, and can lead to serious damage to your eyes if not treated properly.
Allergic conjunctivitis is a condition where both eyes are affected, but it is not contagious. These symptoms vary from burning, itchy eyes, and light sensitivity. This is common during allergy season, if you are allergic to pets, pollen and dust. Over-the-counter allergy medications can help control the symptoms, but you should check with your eye specialist for recommendations, or if prescription medications are needed.
Don’t spread conjunctivitis
You should be aware that certain behaviors can cause you to get conjunctivitis and spread it to others. Teach your children about hand washing, and take these other precautions from pink eye yourself:
- Wash your hands frequently in hot water.
- Avoid rubbing and touching your eyes.
- Remove any discharge from your infected eyes with Q-tips or cotton balls, then discard immediately.
- Do not share towels or washcloths, and wash them after use in hot water.
- Do not go into swimming pools or hot tubs.
- Never share your makeup with others.
- Wash your hands after using eye drops or inserting an eye ointment.
Don’t re-infect yourself
Although these precautions may seem fairly obvious, it is important not to allow the infection to re-occur.
- Discard any eye or face makeup you were using while infected.
- Replace all contact lens solutions and cases.
- Thoroughly clean disposable contact lenses.
- Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes.
- Use hot water to clean towels and washcloths used during your infection.
Contact lenses and conjunctivitis
Lastly, if you wear contact lenses, you are especially susceptible to bacterial conjunctivitis. If you become lazy about their care, and your contacts are not cleaned properly each night, they can develop bacteria, which can lead to conjunctivitis. The bacteria is caught between the contacts and your cornea and, among other eye issues, corneal ulcers and conjunctivitis can occur.
If your cleaning solutions are not replaced at the appropriate time, and cases are not properly cleaned, you set yourself up for an infection to develop. If you sleep in your contact lenses, your eyes do not get the proper amount of oxygen and moisture they need and bacteria can grow. All of these situations can lead to bacterial conjunctivitis.
One way to avoid the possibility of bacterial conjunctivitis from your contact lenses is to decide to leave them behind and consider laser vision correction.
The eye specialists at OCC LASIK are here to answer both how to take precautions from pink eye, and any and all questions about LASIK surgery. Please contact us with any questions!