Conjunctivitis: What You Should Know
Conjunctivitis is commonly called “pink eye” because of the inflammation that occurs in your eye. Conjunctivitis is an infection or inflammation of the part of your eye called the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is a thin, transparent tissue covers the whites of your eyes and lines your eyelids. When your conjunctiva is infected or inflamed, the small blood vessels in your eye become more pronounced, leaving them pink or red in color. This is an easily identifiable symptom of which you will not be able to ignore.
While this condition is typically caused by a viral or bacterial infection, but can also be caused by an allergic reaction to something in your environment (pollen, dust, etc). Despite how uncomfortable conjunctivitis can make you, it doesn’t impair your ability to see whatsoever. If you feel that you may be suffering from pink eye, there are several things you can do to increase your level of comfort. In case you weren’t aware, pink eye is highly contagious, so if you think you may have it, then it’s best to take care of it immediately. This helps so you don’t pass it on to others or infect your other eye (if it’s not already infected). You don’t want to be the cause of spreading conjunctivitis, so getting the treatment you need should be the first thing on your to do list.
Pink Eye Symptoms
While pink eye is quite common, the symptoms you experience can differ from person to person. Various symptoms of conjunctivitis include redness of the whites of your eyes, increased tear production, blurred vision, itchy eyes, sensitivity to light, yellow discharge that crusts over your eyes after sleeping or a green or white discharge from your infected eye. If you think that you have pink eye, you may want to seek help from a doctor so that an examination can be performed. Your physician may also take a sample of any secretions from your eye so that it can be analyzed by a lab.
Treatments You Can Do At Home
In order to relieve some of the discomfort associated with pink eye, you can use a compress on the infected eye. Get a clean wash cloth or rag, soak it in water, wring it out and apply it to your closed eyelid. For those experiencing allergic conjunctivitis, you should use a cool compress in order to maximize your relief. If you’re experiencing viral or bacterial conjunctivitis, then a warm compress will fit your situation better for comfortable results. A word of warning: because of the level of contagiousness that is associated with pink eye, keep any compresses used on your infected eye away from your non-infected eye. Also, if you touch the rag where it was held against your infected eye, be sure to wash your hands before touching your non-infected eye. It spreads easily and you don’t want to get both eyes infected.
If you aren’t seeing any relief from holding a warm or cool compress against the infected eye, then you may want to contemplate the benefits of using special eye drops. These work just as they would for those experiencing problems with chronic dry eye disease and work to provide you with comfort that you may not otherwise get. For those seeking an over the counter solution, you can buy products that create artificial tears to get relief. Many eye drop solutions contain antihistamines which can fight off allergic conjunctivitis best. For the best results, you might want to try several brands to find one that offers you relief. If you are one of the many wearers of contact lenses, you should leave them out of your eyes until your symptoms have been addressed and resolved completely. Be sure to discard any contact lenses that you’ve worn during your symptoms in order to prevent re-infection down the line. For women, avoid wearing makeup until your symptoms have cleared and wear glasses if you need to see without contacts.
To ensure that you do your best to prevent the spread of conjunctivitis to your non-infected eye (if applicable) or to others, be sure to wash your hands on a frequent basis. You may also want to go as far as avoiding contact with others completely until your symptoms have cleared up.
Other Treatment Options
If you don’t wish to try treating yourself at home or for worsened symptoms, you may want to seek out the services of your medical doctor. In case you are experiencing issues with blurred vision, you should seek a doctor’s help quickly to avoid problems with scarring of your cornea.
If you are suffering from a bacterial infection, your doctor can prescribe antibiotic eye drops to help you get rid of pink eye completely. If you use these eye drops as directed by your doctor, your symptoms should be gone within a few days.
Your doctor may be inclined to offer you an ointment instead of eye drops, but this primarily reserved for kids who don’t like having drops put in their eyes. These ointments may be easier to apply to young children, but you should remember that it can cause them to have blurred vision for roughly twenty minutes after application.
Upon examination, your doctor will be able to assess the type of conjunctivitis of which you are suffering. If he or she determines that you are suffering from viral conjunctivitis, then you don’t have any real treatment options available. Unfortunately, if you’re suffering from viral conjunctivitis, you are going to have to let the virus run its full course, which can take two to three weeks.
Viral pink eye typically starts in one eye, but spreads to the other quickly. Despite that, the symptoms you are experiencing will go away by themselves – in time. For the viral pink eye caused by herpes simplex, you will probably need to take an antiviral medication to see improvement in your symptoms. This only occurs in rare cases, but understanding all of the facets of conjunctivitis is the key ingredient to getting through it.