You find your eyes have become slightly pink and rather itchy. You think nothing of it and simply ignore the situation, blaming your allergies. But what if there was more to your itchy eyes? Your pink or red eyes may be caused by a viral or bacterial infection, more commonly referred to as “pink eye.”
There are several types of pink eye, ranging from the contagious viral or bacterial infection mentioned above, to a common irritation of the conjunctiva – the clear membrane covering the white part of the eye and interior lining of the eyelids.
Your Symptoms can help determine the type of pink eye you have. These symptoms include:
• Allergic conjunctivitis causes itching, redness and excessive tearing in both eyes.
• Bacterial conjunctivitis often spreads to both eyes and causes a heavy discharge, sometimes yellow or greenish. Crusting may appear on eyelids.
• Viral conjunctivitis usually affects only one eye, which has excessive watering and a light discharge. Crusting on eyelids can occur.
• Dry eye causes redness, excessive tearing and a dry sandy feeling.
• Blepharitis is an ocular disease that causes redness, itching and irritation.
Of course, the only way to truly diagnose your condition is to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor at your earliest convenience. Your eye doctor will examine your eyes with a specialized microscope and collect a sample for analysis.
Most types of pink eye are not considered serious and treatment is dependent on the variety of pink eye you have. Antibiotic eye ointments or drops may help bacterial forms of conjunctivitis, while viral conjunctivitis will usually clear up by itself within a week. You should wait until you talk to your eye doctor before trying to self-medicate with any over-the-counter eye drops.
To prevent future outbreaks of pink eye, you should…
• …avoid sharing personal items, including towels, make-up, pillowcases.
• …use tissues and cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.
• …avoid eye rubbing and touching.
• …wash your hands often.
• …wear protective goggles when swimming.
• …dust and vacuum to cut down on allergens.
• …follow all cleaning and handling instructions for your contacts.
• …see your doctor regularly.
In the end, everyone is at risk of pink eye, but you can minimize that risk by following the above advice. Despite all these precautions, you may still develop pink eye. If you do, as with any eye problem, always consult your eye doctor for treatment and care.
If you have any questions about what you have just read, contact Anne Arundel Eye Center by calling 410-224-2010 or click here today!