Pink, itchy eyes? Pink eye or conjunctivitis is common and spreads easily. It sometimes needs medical treatment, depending on the cause. Know the symptoms, when to seek treatment, and how to help prevent it.
Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is one of the most common and treatable eye conditions in children and adults. It is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, clear tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid and the white part of the eyeball. This inflammation makes blood vessels more visible and gives the eye a pink or reddish color.
The most common causes of conjunctivitis are viruses, bacteria, and allergens. But there are other causes, including chemicals, fungi, certain diseases, and contact lens wear (especially wearing lenses overnight). The conjunctiva can also become irritated by foreign bodies in the eye and by indoor and outdoor air pollution caused, for example, by chemical vapors, fumes, smoke, or dust.
It can be hard to determine the exact cause of every case of conjunctivitis. This is because some symptoms of the condition may be similar depending on the cause.
Symptoms of conjunctivitis can include:-
- Pink or red color in the white of the eye(s) (often one eye for bacterial and often both eyes for viral or allergic conjunctivitis)
- Increased tearing
- Discharge of pus, especially yellow-green (more common in bacterial conjunctivitis)
- Itching, irritation, and/or burning
- Feeling like a foreign body is in the eye(s) or an urge to rub the eye(s)
- Crusting of eyelids or lashes sometimes occurs, especially in the morning
- Symptoms of a cold, flu, or other respiratory infection may also be present
- Symptoms of allergy, such as an itchy nose, sneezing, a scratchy throat, or asthma may be present in cases of allergic conjunctivitis
- Contact lenses that do not stay in place on the eye and/or feel uncomfortable due to bumps that may form under the eyelid.
Conjunctivitis caused by allergens is not contagious; however, viral and bacterial conjunctivitis can be easily spread from person to person and can cause epidemics. You can greatly reduce the risk of getting conjunctivitis or of passing it on to someone else by following some simple good hygiene steps.
If you have infectious (viral or bacterial) conjunctivitis, you can help limit its spread to other people by following these steps:-
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes.
- Wash hands after applying eye drops or ointment.
- Wash pillowcases, sheets, washcloths, and towels in hot water and detergent; hands should be washed after handling such items.
- Avoid sharing items like towels, blankets, and pillowcases.
- Clean eyeglasses, being careful not to contaminate items (like towels) that might be shared by other people.
- Do not share eye makeup, face make-up, make-up brushes, contact lenses and containers, or eyeglasses.
- Do not use swimming pools.
Conjunctivitis is a common disorder, especially amongst young. Good hygiene practices such as washing hands frequently can prevent the spread of conjunctivitis. If you have any symptoms that indicate you may be suffering from conjunctivitis, see your GP or optometrist.
Dr. (Captain) Vikram Krishan Mohindra
MBBS, MNAMS, MS
Specialist in Ophthalmology
Aster Hospital, Mankhool