Conjunctivitis often called “pink eye,” is a common problem that many people have experienced at least once. While it’s a condition that can affect anybody of any age, some people are more prone to catching it than others. These are typically people who work in crowded spaces, such as schools, where everyone is in close proximity.
Fortunately, conjunctivitis is treatable and preventable. To give you some more information about it, here is a guide to identifying and treating pink eye:
How conjunctivitis happens
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the thin, transparent membrane which lines your eyelid. This same membrane also covers your eyeball and is called the conjunctiva. When inflamed, the blood vessels present in the conjunctiva dilate, allowing more blood to flow in—causing the appearance of very bloodshot eyes characterised as “pink eye”.
Types of conjunctivitis:
There are different variations of conjunctivitis, depending on what caused the inflammation. Their causes and symptoms are as follows:
Caused by a bacterial infection, this form of conjunctivitis is extremely contagious, and is characterised by yellow or yellowy-green discharge. This fluid can often cause the eyelids to stick together, causing a difficulty of a person to open one’s eyes. This is usually self limiting, but can be treated with Chloramphenicol ointment.
Accompanied by sneezing and coughing, viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious as well. Symptoms usually include sensitivity to light and eyes that are very watery and itchy. This is caused by a virus (not unlike the common cold), which generally goes away after a few days with or without medication.
Allergic conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva caused by an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions caused by, for example, airborne allergens, may inflame the conjunctiva. Redness, itching, swelling, tearing, and stringy discharge are common. Various eye drops available over the counter from your pharmacist may help decrease symptoms and inflammation.
Preventing and treating conjunctivitis:
While some forms of conjunctivitis are very contagious, they can still be treated and prevented.
Fortunately, viral conjunctivitis often goes away on its own after a few days, with or without medication. To treat the symptoms of itchy, watery eyes, apply a warm, damp flannel to your eye area a few times a day. The flannel should be sanitised and laundered well to avoid the spread of the infection.
On the other hand, Bacterial conjunctivitis requires antibiotic eye drops and ointments to be treated. Meanwhile, allergic conjunctivitis can be treated with simple allergy medications. It can even be taken before the allergy season so that it can be prevented from setting in entirely.
Prevention and advise:
Here are several other ways to prevent conjunctivitis:
- Regular hand washing
- Keeping your glasses and contact lenses clean
- Refrain from sharing hand towels, flannels, and tissues with family members and friends
- Wear goggles if you swim regularly
- Cover your nose when sneezing or coughing
- Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes
Conjunctivitis can cause other conditions, such as blepharitis (an inflammation of the eyelid) and dry eyes. In some cases, major eye problems like corneal ulcers can occur, which can lead to vision loss. This highlights the importance of treating conjunctivitis right away with a trusted optician, as the initial symptoms may develop into something much more severe.
Pink eye may cause a surge of panic upon discovering that you or someone nearby has contracted it, but following these treatments and preventive measures will ensure it goes away in no time. While home remedies are effective in relieving the symptoms, it is always best to ask your physician what treatment works best.
Are you in need of an optician for sore, itchy eyes? At Simon Kleyn Opticians, we have an optometrists practice in Earls Colne and Frinton on Sea to cater to your needs. We offer a range of treatments, including eye examinations, cataract surgeries, fitting spectacle frames, treating dry or itchy eyes, and more. Check out our website today to find out more about the NHS paid for MECS Minor Eye Care Scheme.