A Close Look At Conjunctivitis
It’s that time of year, when colds and germs of all shapes and sizes become far too common. This is especially true for children as they carry with them all kinds of cooties.
Unfortunately, one of the most common ailments children of all ages get is conjunctivitis, aka pink eye. Keep in mind, though, that conjunctivitis doesn’t end in childhood; adults can certainly get it, too.
So, what is conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye. The conjunctiva is the membrane that lines the inside of the eyelids and covers the eyeball. The membrane swells and the blood vessels enlarge, which is what makes the eye look pink or red.
What causes conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis can be caused by either an irritation or an infection. Typically, conjunctivitis caused by irritation is less severe and not contagious, like conjunctivitis caused by infection. However, because the symptoms are so similar, it is best to see your doctor right away to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.
Conjunctivitis caused by irritation
Eye Drops: A common irritant that can cause conjunctivitis is eye drops. This is because eye drops often contain chemicals (preservatives) that may irritate your eyes.
Allergies: Grass, pollen, dust, mold and animal dander are all common causes of allergies. They can make your eyes red, watery and itchy. If allergies are causing your conjunctivitis, it is likely that both eyes are affected.
Other irritants: Pollution, smoke, contact lenses, and makeup can irritate your eyes. Your eyes can get red, sore, puffy, and watery. One or both eyes may become irritated.
Treatment: If the problem continues coming back, it can lead to an eye infection. Treatment involves relieving your symptoms and avoiding the irritant or allergy source. Cold compresses and eye drops can help reduce the swelling, flush out the eye and lubricate the surface.
Conjunctivitis caused by infection
Viral infections: A cold, flu, or other virus can spread to your eyes. This causes a watery discharge. Your eyes may burn or itch and get red. Your eyelids may also be puffy and sore.
Bacterial infections: Bacterial infections often occur in one eye. There may be a watery or a thick discharge from the eye. These infections can cause serious damage to your eye if not treated promptly.
Treatment: The most important thing to remember is that bacterial and viral eye infections are very contagious. To prevent spreading, avoid any eye touching, wash hands frequently, don’t share bedding or towels and use separate tissues to wipe each eye.
Your doctor will likely prescribe eye drops or ointment. But remember, even after starting treatment, fluid from the eye is still contagious for 24 to 48 hours after starting treatment.
While there is no doubt that pink eye can be miserable, you don’t have to suffer through it. The experienced physicians of Gwinnett Medical Group are prepared to provide thorough, customized care for patients of all ages.