Pink eye, also called conjunctivitis, is a condition that is characterized by the inflammation and infection of the conjunctiva. Conjunctiva is the transparent eye membrane that covers the eyelids underside and also the eyeball. Conjunctivitis can cause the eye’s conjunctiva to appear slightly red or pinkish in color，so it was also called pink eye. Conjunctivitis is caused by viral and bacterial infections and is highly contagious. It is, however, not a grave health problem when you get proper treatment. Conjunctiva in children, especially in babies, should be immediately reported to an ophthalmologist or physician.
Pink Eye Symptoms
Pink eye symptoms differ depending on the cause of inflammation. Some of the symptoms may include:
- Red or pink color in the white part of one or both eye;
- A swollen conjunctiva;
- Increased tearing;
- Discharge of yellow-green pus;
- Burning, itching and/or irritation;
- Feeling the urge to rub the eyes or like there is a foreign body in the eye;
- In the morning, the eyelashes or lids crust;
- Symptoms of a respiratory infection like a flu or cold;
- Occasional sensitivity to bright light;
- Tenderness and/or enlargement of the lymph nodes near the ears. It may feel like a small lump to touch;
- Symptoms of allergies such as scratchy throat, sneezing, itchy nose or even asthma in the case of an allergic conjunctivitis;
- Uncomfortable contact lenses or those that do not stay in place due to bumps that have formed under the eyelid.
When to See a Doctor
Seek medical care if you develop any of the following pink eye symptoms:
- If there is yellow-green discharge in either one or both eyes;
- If you have vision loss, facial pain, shaking chills or high fever;
- If you feel severe pain in either one or both eyes each time you look into bright light;
- If the pink eye or redness keeps on within 2 weeks;
- If your vision is blurry, seeing halos (rings of light) around objects or double vision;
- If you feel a burning sensation when you urinate or remove discharge via the vagina or penis.
Causes of Pink Eye
Pink eye have non-infectious and infectious causes. Infectious pink eye may be caused by viruses or bacteria. Non-infectious pink eye can be caused by trauma, underlying inflammatory diseases, irritation or allergy.
1. Virus & Bacterial Infection
These usually produce watery discharge. It often produces a yellow-green, thick discharge. Both types are quite contagious and are spread via direct or indirect contact with the eye secretion from an infected person to a non-infected person.
This affects both eyes and is most often a response to substances like pollen. Your body responds to allergens by producing immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE triggers special cells in the airways and eye’s mucus lining called mast cells. Mast cells release substances which include histamines and this histamine release can produce allergy symptoms and signs like pink eyes.
Irritants like foreign objects or chemical splashes in your eyes are also known to lead to conjunctivitis. There are times when you clean or flush the eye to get rid of the irritant causing irritation or redness.
4. Underlying-Diseases or Trauma
Persistent conjunctiva can also be a sign of an underlying illness in a body like systemic lupus erythematosus, reactive arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Pink eye can also occur when the small vessels that cover the eye’s white part rupture from pressure changes or trauma.
Treatments for Pink Eye
If you have pink eyes, you should use home remedies and medication to soothe pink eye symptoms and eliminate its root.
1. Home remedies for Pink Eye
Home remedies for pink eye help reduce the pain and also keeps your eyes from producing drainage.
- Remove contact lens
If you wear eye contacts, replace them with eyeglasses until you completely get rid of the symptoms.
- Apply warm or cold compress
If the problem is an allergy, a cool compress will make you feel much better. If it has been caused by an infection, a moist or warm compress may soothe the eye and also help reduce swelling and redness. Use different compresses for each eye and a clean one upon each application.
- Gently clean your eyes
When cleaning your eyes, always start from the nose bridge going outside. Make sure that each wipe is done with a clean surface so that you do not rub back drainage you had first rubbed away. Properly discard the material you use if they are disposable. Wash your hands after washing your eyes so that you do not spread the pink eye.
Check out this video on home remedies for pink eye:
2. Medications for Pink Eye
- For viral pink eye
In most of these cases, there is no treatment. Instead, the virus clears up by itself in about 2 to 3 weeks. Viral pink eye normally starts in one eye and later on infects the other eye.
- For bacterial pink eye
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics eye drops and the infection should go away after several days. In children with pink eye, antibiotic eye ointment is used in place of the eye drops.
- For allergy-induced pink eye
In this type of pink eye, your physician may prescribe one of the many eye drops available for people with allergies. It may be inclusive of medications that suppress allergic reactions like mast cell stabilizers and antihistamines or anti-inflammatory drugs like steroids and decongestants.
- For irritants-induced pink eye
If there is an irritating substance in the eye, you can wash the eyes with clean water in large amounts. Immediately contact your local poison control center or doctor even if the chemical or irritant is not extremely harmful. The reason for this is that some common household products like furniture polish and bleach can cause severe damage.
How to Prevent Pink Eye
- Do not rub or touch the infected eye (s).
- Wash your hands using warm water and soap regularly.
- Wash any discharge coming out of your eye with a fresh paper towel or cotton ball several times each day.
- Wash your towels, bed linens and pillow cases with warm water.
- Never share contact lenses.
- Wash your hands after you have applied eye ointment or drops.
- If you have a child who has pink eye, keep him home away from day care or school to avoid infecting other children.