Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis, with Videos
eye infections - pink eye
If you have kids, you’ve probably had run-ins with pink eye. Also referred to as “pinkeye,” the actual term for the condition is conjunctivitis, and like most eye infections, it can make you feel absolutely lousy. By following a few guidelines, you can lessen the symptoms of pink eye and decrease your chances of getting it again and passing it on to others.
What is pink eye?
To understand pink eye, you need to know a little about the eye’s structure. The white part of the eye is called the “sclera.” The sclera is covered by a mucous membrane called the “conjunctiva.” The undersides of the eyelids are also covered by conjunctiva. When the conjunctiva becomes inflamed, the condition is called conjunctivitis or pink eye.
Pink eye is usually caused by a viral infection, but it can also be caused by a bacterial infection or by allergies. Irritants like harsh chemicals can also cause conjunctivitis.
How pink eye is spread
Pink eye caused by viral and bacterial infections are highly contagious. They’re easily spread from person to person, by direct contact or by items that have been contaminated. Pink eye is a common malady in preschools, kindergartens, and elementary schools because young children are often in close proximity to one another, and they often share objects that might be contaminated. If your child get pink eye, he’ll need to stay home from school until he’s no longer contagious.
If you have conjunctivitis in one of your eyes, it’s difficult to keep it from spreading to the other eye.
Sometimes teen girls spread pink eye by sharing mascara, eye shadow, and eyeliner.
Symptoms of pink eye
Pink eye symptoms include redness, discharge, itching, and pain. It will often feel like you have sand in the affected eye. The eyelids might also become swollen and tender. With bacterial pink eye, the discharge from the affected eye is often profuse. In fact, you might very well wake up with your eye or eyes “glued together.”
Pink eye symptoms might last for more than a week.
Pink eye treatment
Pink eye treatment depends on which type of conjunctivitis is involved. If the pink eye is caused by a virus, the condition will usually resolve on its own, although seeing a doctor is wise. Sometimes the cornea might be affected, and that will need to be treated by a physician. Cool, damp compresses will often relive some of the symptoms, and eye drops or artificial tears might help, too.
For bacterial pink eye, your doctor will most likely prescribe an antibiotic in the form of drops or ointment. Warm, damp compresses will help to soften the “crust” that often accompanies the infection.
If you get inflamed conjunctiva from an irritant or toxic substance, wash the affected eye with lots of water as soon as possible. You’ll also need to call the poison control center and tell them exactly which substance caused the inflammation. Get to your physician as soon as you can to ensure that there’s no permanent damage to the eye.
If you normally wear contact lenses, avoid them while you have pink eye. Also, don’t use any eye makeup until the condition clears up completely. Keep your hands away from your eyes, and resist the urge to rub your eyes. Wash your hands frequently, too. your pillowcases and sheets will need to be washed to prevent re-infection.
My experience with pink eye
As a teacher, I was always coming in contact with a plethora of viral and bacterial “bugs.” Several years ago, I contracted conjunctivitis in my left eye. I had suffered a few times from viral pink eye, and they were never very painful or worrisome. They healed quickly on their own.
This specific case of pink eye, however, just kept getting worse and worse. It was extremely painful. My lymph nodes swelled, and I had a high fever. The infection spread to my right eye, but it was never as bad as my left. My physician prescribed antibiotics, but before they could battle the bacteria, the left side of my face became very swollen. I looked like the Elephant Man – seriously. This was one of the worst illnesses I’d ever experienced. Even worse, my husband ended up with the infection, too.