At some point or another, most of us have either had or known someone who has had pink eye. Pink eye, also known as Conjunctivitis, comes in a variety of forms and happens for many different reasons. It is a common condition that spreads easily and can affect many people.
Characteristics of Pink Eye
Most people will recognize they have conjunctivitis when their eyes are red, irritated, and either watery or goopy. The conjunctiva (a layer of tissue that covers the surface of the eye) becomes inflamed. This causes the symptoms of pink eye – redness, irritation, and a watery discharge. Let’s look at the different reasons this happens.
The Different Types of Pink Eye
Viral pink eye can be detected by a watery discharge rather than the thick, goopy discharge that sometimes occurs. Because this form is a virus, it is highly contagious and can be spread through a saliva form. Coughing, sneezing or sharing food are prime examples. It can also be spread through contact with the watery discharge from the eye. Washing your hands often is very important when you have this form of pink eye. Treatment for the viral type usually involves only treating the symptoms, because antibiotics will not help resolve this type of conjunctivitis. Warm compresses on the eye can help relieve the irritation from the inflammation, however.
Pink eye that is caused from a bacteria typically begins in one eye only and eventually spreads to the other eye. Instead of having a watery discharge like the viral form, the bacterial type will have a thick greenish-yellow discharge along with the redness and irritation. Conjunctivitis of this form is also contagious. It is spread through direct contact, however, and not through saliva like the virus. This type of pink eye will need to be treated with an antibiotic and typically clears up quickly once the antibiotic treatment begins.
There are certain situations where pink eye like symptoms can occur due to chemical exposure. Chlorine from swimming pools is a good example. Other pollutants can also cause similar symptoms. If you suspect harch chemical exposure is the cause of your symptoms, a simple flushing of cool, clean water over the eyes may help, but it is best to seek medical attention, especially if you are uncertain the type of chemical causing the inflammation.
Is It Just Allergies?
Allgeries can cause similar symptoms to pink eye. If you think your conjunctivis might just be your allergies acting up, try taking your allergy medications and see if symptoms improve. Sometimes other allergy symptoms don’t manifest themselves, so it is easy to assume your itchy, watery eyes are pink eye. If your allergy medications do not improve symptoms, then consider it may be one of the other forms of pink eye and pursue the appropriate treatment.
How To Help Prevent Pink Eye
There are many simple things you can do to help prevent and slow the spread of pink eye. Washing your hands often and avoiding touching or rubbing your eyes is a good beginning. If you wear contact lenses, make sure you are cleaning them regularly and in the appropriate way. Contact lenses can easily cause more irritation and spread of pink eye, so take a break from them and wear your glasses until the symptoms clear up. Another easy way to help prevent it is to never share contacts, contact solution or make up. Anything you use near your eyes should be kept for your use only.
If you think you might have pink eye and need some assistance managing the symptoms, please come and see us right away and let our doctors help you get it cleared up. Call us at 435.359.2020 or schedule an appointment HERE. We are here to help you!