Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)
Conjunctivitis, commonly referred to as pink eye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is a thin, transparent membrane containing many small blood vessels. This membrane covers the inner eyelid and the front of the eye. It lubricates and protects the eye while the eye moves in its socket.
This condition typically causes swelling of the eyelid and a yellowish discharge.
Conjunctivitis is highly contagious, especially if it’s due to a virus. Bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with antibiotics, whereas viral conjunctivitis takes longer to resolve on its own. It is very common for entire families to become infected. The bacteria are typically spread by rubbing the eye and then infecting household items such as towels or handkerchiefs.
With conjunctivitis the eyelids become inflamed and vision can blur. Your eye may feel scratchy and itchy and produce matting of the lids and a pus-like or watery discharge around the eyelids.
Practicing good hygiene is the most effective way to prevent the spread of this disease. Children frequently get conjunctivitis because of their poor hygiene. Washing hands thoroughly, using clean handkerchiefs, and avoiding contagious individuals are very helpful. If you or someone in your household has contracted conjunctivitis, follow these steps to prevent the spread of the infection:
- Wash your hands thoroughly every time you touch your eyes or face, including when using medicine in your eye(s).
- Wash any clothing touched by infected eyes including clothes, towels and pillowcases.
- Discard make-up used prior to diagnosis. Do not share make-up.
- Avoid touching or rubbing the infected eye as the infection can spread to the other eye.
Treatment for Conjunctivitis
Antibiotic drops are used to clear up the infection, normally within just a few days. Warm compresses can ease discomfort. Sometimes, the inflammation does not respond well to the initial treatment with eye drops and may require a second visit to your doctor. Severe infections may be treated using oral antibiotics. If left untreated, conjunctivitis can create serious complications such as infections in the cornea, eyelids and tear ducts.