Pink Eye: What You Should Know vs. What You Think You Know!

Pink Eye, probably something that all of us have had the pleasure of encountering at some point.  When it comes to eye health, you probably don’t know exactly how LASIK works but most of us feel like we know when we have pink eye.  You know the feeling; you start to feel that itch in the corner of your eye, then it develops into a constant soreness, then boom. The next morning you wake up to a crusty, matted shut eyelid and more eye soreness.  You know it’s not going to look pretty when you walk up to that mirror.  What a frustrating and inconvenient start to your day!

WHAT DO I DO? Do I have to call in sick and go to the eye doctor? Can I just go to the pharmacy and pick up some eye drops?  Do any of my friends have eye drops I can borrow?

Well we are here to give you the skinny on this not-so-fun but VERY common eye condition and hopefully we can answer all of your questions.

What is Pink Eye?

In medical terms we call pink eye “Conjunctivitis”. There are three types of pink eye: viral, bacterial and allergic. The good news is it’s the most common and treatable eye condition in all the universe. Pink eye forms when the clear tissue (the conjunctiva) which lines your eyelid and the white part of your eye, gets inflamed.  The inflammation causes your the white of your eye to look bloodshot because it makes your blood vessels become more visible. The color, consistency, and quantity of eye discharge (eye gunk) can help identify which type of pink eye you have. Depending on the type of pink eye you have, it can be VERY contagious and even sight threatening.

What are the Symptoms of Pink Eye?

  • Itchy eye
  • Irritated eye
  • Burning eye (or all of the above)
  • A gritty feeling in your eye that feels like sand is in it
  • Crusty lids
  • Crusty eyelashes
  • Eye discharge or oozing (colors: clear, white, yellow or green)
  • Tearing or increased amount of tears
  • Redness or swelling of the white of the eyeball
  • Redness or swelling of the inside of the eyelids
  • Contact lenses do not stay on
  • Contact lenses feel uncomfortable

What else can it be if it’s not pink eye?

  • Allergies
  • A foreign substance got in your eye (dirt, allergen or irritant)
  • Another type of eye infection

What can I buy over the counter for Pink Eye?

  • Preservative –free artificial tears to help relieve the inflammation.

Will something I have at home treat my Pink Eye?

Natural or organic treatments always seem to be trending and sometimes they treat minor colds and aches, however there isn’t really anything you can find in your house that will get rid of an eye infection.  Many people have used options to help soothe the symptoms, such as cold or warm compresses, tea bags, or even honey.  One of our doctors has seen a patient who had been using someone else’s breast milk in the eye!  However, before using home remedies to treat your eyes, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional.

What should I do if I think I have Pink Eye? First and foremost, READ THIS ENTIRE ARTICLE!

Not to fear, as mentioned earlier pink eye is common and easily treatable. If your symptoms are moderate to severe schedule an appointment to see your local eye doctor.  This is the BEST option to treat your infection quickly and keep it from spreading.  A few other things you can do to prevent it from spreading to your other eye or to people in your household is:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t use hand towels to dry your eyes.
  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes.
  • Avoid sharing anything with others as to not to infect them too (don’t share makeup, glasses, contact lenses, contact lens containers, etc.)

Do I have to see a Doctor if I think I have Pink Eye?

Great question – if you aren’t the type to RUSH to a doctor’s office for everything then this will be a good one for you to read.   The answer to the question is no, but if you are like me and have zero time for a bothersome, irritating eye infection…go see the doctor. Read below for some of the situations when you NEED to see a doctor for pink eye:

    • You are a newborn or infant with pink eye.
    • You have a newborn or infant with pink eye.
    • You are experiencing moderate to severe pain in your eye (not just discomfort).
    • You are also sensitive to light.
    • You also have blurry vision.
    • You have intense redness in your eye.
    • Your eyelids are matted shut with discharge.
    • You have symptoms that worsen or don’t get better with 24 hours of the use of antibiotics
    • You have previously existing eye conditions (that may cause risk of severe infection or complication).
    • You have a weakened immune system (i.e. due to cancer treatments or HIV).

When you see a Doctor, what will he do for Pink Eye?

Treating conjunctivitis has three main goals:

  1. Increase patient comfort.
  2. Reduce or lessen the course of the infection or inflammation.
  3. Prevent the spread of the infection in contagious forms of conjunctivitis.
  • Most likely, an eye doctor will prescribe antibiotics if the conjunctivitis is deemed to be bacterial so it can go away faster.
  • If you have viral conjunctivitis it should get better on its own (as does any viral infection) and symptoms usually clear up within 7-14 days. Topical steroid eye drops and artificial tears may be prescribed to help with discomfort and inflammation.
  • If it does not clear up in 7-14 days, call your doctor.
  • If your CHILD has pink eye, make sure to ask the doctor if or how long your child has to stay out of school.

What causes Pink Eye?

Although there are many urban legends about dirty pillowcases and some not so pretty stories about washing our hands, there are 4 main proven medical causes of pink eye:

  1. Bacteria (bacterial conjunctivitis is VERY contagious!)
  2. Viruses
  3. Allergies (such as pollen, pet dander or dust mites)
  4. Irritants (Chlorine water or Swimming pool water, smog, or anything that can irritate eye or eyelids)

Of course, it can be tough to figure out the exact cause because some symptoms can be the same no matter what the cause is!

Call us at Slade & Baker Vision if you have any questions about Pink Eye or if you think you might have pink eye!  We can see you and evaluate the best course of treatment.  Our phone number is 713-626-5544 or you can email us at info@visiontexas.com.  We are always here for any eye questions you may have!

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Posted in: eye health, Ophthalmology Houston

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3900 Essex Lane – Suite 101
Houston, TX 77027

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3900 Essex Lane - Suite 101 - Houston, TX 77027  -  713-626-5544