Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

Seeing Red: The Truth Behind Conjunctivitis

Most of us have experienced conjunctivitis at some point in our lives. Sometimes referred to as pink eye or red eye, conjunctivitis is just the inflammation of the mucous membrane covering the eye called the conjunctiva. This inflammation can (and does) happen for a number of reasons. There are three main strains of conjunctivitis.

Let Your Doctor Diagnose You

Since there are multiple types of conjunctivitis, all of which stem from different kinds of irritants, the treatment varies quite a bit. You should see your doctor anytime you have a consistent case of conjunctivitis, just to confirm which strain you have, and which course of treatment you should pursue.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

This particular form of conjunctivitis is triggered by specific allergens like dust, pollen, or animal dander. The triggers for this reaction tend to vary from case to case, however, the results are for the most part the same.

Symptoms

Patients often experience itchy, red, possibly swollen eyes. In some cases, the eyes feel dry and gravelly. In others, the eyes are overly watery, with excessive discharge. Sometimes, the eye is both dry and watery in turns. Symptoms are often in conjunction with other allergic symptoms, such excessive sneezing or an itchy throat.

Treatment

Over the counter allergy medications or antihistamines help relieve allergic conjunctivitis; particularly if taken before coming into contact with allergens. The most effective way to relieve symptoms is to remove allergens if possible.

Viral Conjunctivitis

Sometimes viral infections like the common cold or strep throat can come into contact with the eye, causing viral conjunctivitis. This strain of conjunctivitis typically starts in one eye but then spreads to the other. Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious, so you should avoid crowded spaces, and wash anything that comes into contact with your eyes.

Symptoms

Sufferers of viral conjunctivitis usually experience red, itchy, swollen eyes. The eyes may feel dry, but excrete more discharge than normal. These symptoms often appear in conjunction with those accompanying strep throat, the common cold, or any other viral infection the patient may be experiencing.

Treatment

Viral conjunctivitis usually clears up on its own so doctors don’t typically prescribe any treatment. However, you should still see a doctor if you think you’re experiencing viral conjunctivitis, as it could be another infection which requires treatment.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis

Bacterial strains of conjunctivitis are contracted through either contact with bacteria, or through the spread of other infections like sinus and ear infections. Left untreated, bacterial conjunctivitis can sometimes cause permanent vision loss. It usually only appears in one eye, though infection can spread to the other. Since bacterial conjunctivitis is highly contagious, you should dispose of any makeup you’ve used on the affected eye and avoid being in public as much as possible.

Symptoms

Perhaps the most unsettling symptom of this kind of conjunctivitis is the large amounts of thick, sticky, green or yellowish discharge that comes from the infected eye. Patients sometimes find the discharge is enough to seal their eye shut while they’re sleeping. The eye also usually feels itchy and sore, appearing quite swollen and red.

Treatment

Bacterial conjunctivitis usually requires prescription eye drops to cure it. We offer emergency eye care appointments to allow us to deal with this kind of urgent infection quickly and efficiently. Contact us to make an appointment today.

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