Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is an uncomfortable eye condition caused by inflammation or infection.When
the blood vessels become irritated, they grow larger and more red in appearance. Many people develop conjunctivitis each year and if caused by a virus or bacteria, can be very contagious. While uncomfortable, most forms of conjunctivitis won't affect your vision. Fortunately, there are also many treatments available to cure pinkeye and some infections will go away on their own. It's important to see your doctor if you notice the signs of conjunctivitis to receive proper care and treatment. This article will focus on some basic information in an effort to ensure that anyone who suffers from conjunctivitis is able to spot it quickly and take action accordingly.
Causes of Conjunctivitis
Conjunctivitis is typically caused by one of three things, a virus, a bacterial infection, or an allergic reaction. In infants, a tear duct that doesn't open all the way can cause pinkeye. Less commonly, chemicals and foreign objects that get into the eye can also cause conjunctivitis. Viral conjunctivitis is usually caused by a virus that causes the common cold. Other viruses that trigger pinkeye can be the chickenpox , herpes simplex virus, and so many others.
Bacterial infections can be caused by improper cleaning of contact lenses and other forms of direct exposure to bacteria that can cause inflammation. Some people even give themselves bacterial infections from the fluid in their mouths or noses. Allergic reactions can also cause inflammation which leads to conjunctivitis in the blood vessels in the eye. Smoke and pool chlorine are some typical culprits of allergy conjunctivitis.
Signs and Symptoms of Conjunctivitis
Some of the symptoms of conjunctivitis include:
- Gritty feeling in the eye
- Tearing up
- Eye redness
- Eye itchiness
- Discharge from the eyes that may crust over during the night
- Puffy eyelids
- Burning feeling in the eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Blurry vision
- Pain in the eyes
- Feeling that something is stuck in your eye
If you have bacterial conjunctivitis, you are more likely to experience symptoms like pus or mucus in the eyes, alongside eye soreness. This form is extremely contagious, so avoid going to school or work if you have this form. Viral conjunctivitis is also very contagious and causes eye burning, redness, and wateriness. This is very common in schools and crowded places. Allergic conjunctivitis isn't contagious, but can cause puffiness and itchiness.
The treatment you receive for conjunctivitis depends on the type that you have. Viral conjunctivitis will go away on its own as your body fights off the virus. Cold and warm compresses may help with the symptoms, alongside artificial tears and frequent eyelid cleaning. If you wear contacts, you may want to go ahead and throw out your current pair. In some cases, antiviral medications may be prescribed and used.
Less commonly, if your pinkeye is caused by a bacteria, you will be prescribed antibiotic eye drops to cure the infection. Take all of the drops as directed to ensure that your infection is gone. For conjunctivitis caused by allergies, artificial tears are the best way to go, as well as medication to minimize the impact of allergies.