Pink eye is the common name for the conjunctivitis. The conjunctiva is a clear membrane which covers the white of your eye and the inner-side of your eyelids. Conjunctivitis is a swelling or infection of the conjunctiva. When the conjunctiva is inflamed it appears pink because the blood vessels are swollen and become more prominent.
Symptoms of conjunctivitis include: Redness, itchiness, a gritty feeling, tearing and discharge.
Conjunctivitis is commonly caused by viruses, bacteria, allergens (allergies), foreign objects or chemicals. It also occurs in newborn babies when the tear duct is not yet open.
Even though conjunctivitis is a bit uncomfortable, it rarely affects your sight. Because some forms of conjunctivitis are highly contagious and can spread to other parts of the eye, it is important to seek early diagnosis and treatment.
An eye develops conjunctivitis because of an incident or exposure. In allergic conjunctivitis one is exposed to an allergen. In bacterial or viral conjunctivitis one is exposed to the offending pathogen. Someone with conjunctivitis can be contagious for seven to 14 days after the first signs and symptoms appear and sometimes even before they know they have been infected. Contact lens wearers, especially those who wear extended wear contacts, are more prone to conjunctivitis.
Due to the contagious nature or viral and bacterial conjunctivitis, infected people should be kept away from other children until released by their eye care professional. Children with bacterial conjunctivitis should not be allowed in school or daycare facilities until after their antibiotic regimen has been initiated for over 24 hours, Children with viral conjunctivitis should consult with an eye care specialist to determine when they can return.
To prevent the spread of conjunctivitis wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. Don’t touch your eyes with your hands. Change your pillow case, towels/wash clothes daily, discard cosmetics and follow your eye doctors instructions on proper contact lens care.
Because there are many different types of conjunctivitis with various treatments, it is essential to gain an early diagnosis from your eye care professional.
— Dr. Haws