Pinkeye can be very difficult to deal with and manage. At Crossroads Optometry, we want you, and your eyes to be kept safe. We’ve compiled some pinkeye prevention tips that should help keep the illness away from you. But before we give prevention tips, let’s give a little background information on what pinkeye is. Pinkeye (also known as conjunctivitis) is the redness and swelling of the conjunctiva. Conjunctiva is the mucous membrane that lines the eyelid and eye surface. Although the lining of the eye is of course (usually) clear, if an infection or irritation occurs, the lining becomes red and swollen.
Pinkeye is very common. Pinkeye usually goes away after 7 days without medical treatment, which means it isn’t serious. The primary types of conjunctivitis are viral conjunctivitis, bacterial conjunctivitis, and allergic conjunctivitis. According to All About Vision, viral conjunctivitis is caused by a virus, like the common cold. This type of pink eye is very contagious, but usually will clear up on its own within several days without medical treatment. Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria. This type of conjunctivitis can cause serious damage to the eye if left untreated. Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by eye irritants such as pollen, dust, and animal dander among susceptible individuals. Allergic conjunctivitis may be seasonal (pollen) or flare up year-round due to dust and pet dander.
The symptoms largely depend on which type of pinkeye you have, but of course one of the primary signs of pink eye, is the pink appearance of an eye.
• Viral conjunctivitis: Watery, itchy eyes, sensitivity to light. Highly contagious. Can be spread through coughing and sneezing.
• Bacterial conjunctivitis: Sticky, yellow, or greenish-yellow eye discharge in the corner of the eye. The discharge has the potential to be severe enough to cause the eyelids to be stuck together when you wake up. It’s contagious, by direct contact with infected hands or belongings that have touched the eye.
• Allergic conjunctivitis: Watery, burning, itchy, usually accompanied by a runny nose and stuffiness. However this form of pinkeye is not contagious.
Half of the battle is understanding what pinkeye is. But now that you know how to identify it, we can share tips to prevent you or a loved one from getting pinkeye. We have 5 precautions that you can take to reduce the risk of contracting pinkeye.
1. Don’t share items that you wash your eyes with like washcloths and tissues.
2. Avoid rubbing or touching your eyes.
3. Obviously never share your contacts, colored contacts, or even special effect contacts with friends.
4. Clean surfaces on a regular basis. These areas are easy to pass pinkeye through. Such surfaces are keyboards, door handles, faucet handles, office phones, etc.
5. Make sure to wear swim goggles, while swimming to protect yourself from bacteria in the water that can cause conjunctivitis.
Pinkeye prevention means doing your part to prevent spreading it further. If you do have pinkeye, be vigilant about washing your hands and about the items that you touch. Spreading pinkeye can be prevented by you. Make sure to also see your doctor, so they can give you a check up and a proper diagnosis. If you have a child who has it, be extra careful. We know that kids have a tendency to aggravate (and spread!) their ailments.
Consulting your doctor will of course help you assess whatever condition you have, as well as help you make the right decisions to treat it, whether it is viral, bacterial, or allergic conjunctivitis. Treatment for pinkeye usually consists of antibiotics. However there are pinkeye relief eye drops that are over-the-counter and safe to use. Another pinkeye cure is by going the self care route, using artificial tears and a cold compress. If you think you or your child might have pinkeye contact your doctor immediately.