Medical Treatment For Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)
“Pink eye can cause discomfort, discharge from the eye and tearing. It is highly contagious, so if you think you have pink eye it is best to seek treatment, as you may pass the infection on to others, especially those in your household”.
What is conjunctivitis?
The conjunctiva is the transparent membrane that covers the white of your eye and lines your eyelid. In pink eye, infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva causes inflammation of the tiny blood vessels of the conjunctiva, which results in the characteristic pink coloration of the eye. It is usually caused by infection with a virus or bacteria or by an allergic reaction.
What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis (pink eye)?
In addition to redness in one or both eyes, conjunctivitis may also cause:
- a sensation of a foreign body in the eye (gritty sensation)
- discharge/crusting of the eye which is usually worse in the morning
Do I need to see a doctor if I have pink eye?
Yes. Pink eye can be highly contagious. If you get treatment as soon as your symptoms start, you may be able to prevent others around you from getting it. In addition, your symptoms may not be caused by pink eye but by another eye condition that is more serious. Eye health should always be taken seriously. If you have blurred vision and pain in one or both eyes in addition to redness, it is imperative that you seek medical care as soon as possible.
What causes pink eye?
Pink eye may be caused by the following:
- Bacterial/viral infections– if you have a viral or bacterial infection, you will likely experience copious watery discharge (viral infection) or a thick yellow or green discharge (bacterial infection) in addition to redness of one or both eyes. Infectious conjunctivitis often occurs at the same time as a cold or a respiratory illness. Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis is very contagious. It is spread by direct contact with an infected person, or by contact with items an infected person has touched (indirect contact). If you have children who have conjunctivitis it is important that you wash your hands frequently and have them do the same, and ensure that your children are treated by their doctor.
- Allergic conjunctivitis– if you suffer from allergies, your eyes may also be affected. Your eyes may be reddened and itchy and may water uncontrollably. You may also suffer from a runny nose and may sneeze frequently. Allergic conjunctivitis occurs after exposure to an allergen such as pollen.
- Foreign objects/substances in the eye– if you have inadvertently splashed a chemical in your eye or something has been blown by the wind into your eye, you will know it! Your eye will be irritated and you will feel as though you have something in your eye. Your eyes may water profusely as your eye attempts to flush out the foreign object or substance. If you think (or know) that there is something in your eye that shouldn’t be there, try not to rub your eye. Flush your eyes with saline if you have any and come to see us right away, or head to the nearest emergency room. Foreign objects or substances, particularly chemicals, may damage the eye and may threaten vision. Many workplaces in which chemicals are used have eye wash stations for these types of emergencies.
What can I expect when I come in to see you?
First of all, We will need to know how long you have had symptoms and what symptoms you are experiencing. We will also need to know if anyone you have been in contact with has similar symptoms. We will ask if you have allergies to pollen or dust that may be causing your symptoms. We will need to know if both or a single eye is affected. We will also need to know if you wear contact lenses. We will ask if you have pain in your eye(s) and whether your vision is affected.
We will examine your eye carefully. This may involve shining a light in your eye. We may also assess your vision using an eye chart. We may perform other exams as necessary, including staining the surface of your eye with a short-acting dye and viewing your eye with a slit lamp to see if your cornea has been injured.
If you have conjunctivitis caused by a bacterial infection, We may prescribe eye drops or an eye ointment. If your symptoms are caused by allergies, there are eye drops that can help. We will instruct you regarding how to instill your drops or ointment. If we are concerned that your eye problem is caused by something more serious than conjunctivitis, we may refer you to an eye specialist. In most cases, conjunctivitis clears up quite quickly.
If you have symptoms of conjunctivitis, don’t wait to come in- conjunctivitis is often very contagious and you may inadvertently spread the infection to others, so call today for your appointment.