Pink Eye: Symptoms and Treatments
Commonly caused by bacterial or viral infections, pink eye affects the transparent membrane that lines eyelid and covers the white area of the eyeball. When the tiny blood vessels in this area become inflamed, they appear noticeably pink, which is where the infection gets its name.
Medically known as conjunctivitis, pink eye can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms, including:
• Redness in one or both eyes
• Itchy or burning eyes
• Gritty sensation in the eyes
• Discharge that crusts over at night, making it difficult to open the eyes in the morning
What’s the Cause?
While usually caused by viruses or bacteria, pink eye can also occur in response to allergies, blocked tear ducts, or when foreign objects enter the eye. Both bacterial and viral conjunctivitis can occur along with colds and respiratory infections. People can also contract bacterial conjunctivitis from tainted contact lenses.
Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are both highly contagious, spreading through direct or indirect contact with fluid from the eye.
What Is the Treatment?
Pink eye treatment usually centers on symptom relief, using pain medications and artificial tears. Cold or warm compresses can also help with pain and drainage. Since most cases of pink eye are viral, antibiotic eye drops are rarely needed and can actually cause harm when used unnecessarily.
In some cases, antiviral medications can be an option if your physician determines that your conjunctivitis is caused by the herpes simplex virus. Antihistamines, mast cell stabilizers and anti-inflammatory medications can also be used for allergic conjunctivitis.
You can reduce your risk of contracting pink eye by practicing good hygiene, changing disposable contacts regularly, and by not touching or rubbing your eyes.