If you have never suffered from a pink eye, then you know a friend or a relative that has suffered from the irritating condition. A pink eye, is the swelling and reddening of the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane of the eyelid.
The conjunctiva is normally clear but if there is an irritation or an infection, it becomes red and swollen and hence the name pink eye or conjunctivitis. Pink eye is a very common infection in America today and accounts for more than a million visits to the emergency room annually.
Although it is relatively harmless condition, conjunctivitis is invasive and will affect the way you go about your daily activities. See, a pink eye will literally raise eyebrows as very many people will be looking at your odd looking eye. The dry also makes you want to scratch your eye from time to time and this affects your concentration and ability to get things done quickly.
Causes of conjunctivitis
Infections to the conjunctiva caused by viruses and bacteria. These viruses and bacteria cause inflammation and swelling of the conjunctiva which is proceeded by dryness and itchiness. The eye eventually changes color as the conjunctiva becomes reddish.
The other cause of pink eyes is lack of enough tears in the eyes. Tears are important in keeping the conjunctiva supple and moist. Lack of enough tear production caused by exposure to too much wind or too much time spent in the sun can cause the eyes to be dry and eventually become inflamed.
Chemicals are also capable of causing conjunctivitis. Some chemicals, fumes and smokes result in the irritation of the eye and the moist conjunctiva becomes dry and swollen.
Allergies have also been found to cause irritation of the eye.
Is pink eye contagious?
The viral and bacterial pink eye, is highly contagious and will spread in no time. Viral pink eyes are especially very contagious and the slightest interaction with the virus causing the infection, will result to irritation of the eye.
To prevent spreading of conjunctivitis, you should ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and avoid sharing personal items like towels and washcloths which are likely to carry the viruses causing conjunctivitis.
Symptoms of viral conjunctivitis
Itching of the eyelids
If your eyelids are itchy or have a burning feeling, then you are most likely suffering from a viral pink eye. The burning sensation will prompt you to keep scratching your eye lids and this only makes the eyes even redder.
Redness in the conjunctiva
The conjunctiva of the eye is normally clear or white in color. If it begins reddening therefore, you should be warned because it could be indicative of a viral conjunctiva. Sometimes it takes a few days before the eye becomes red enough for you to notice the change in color.
Swollen and tender areas in front of ears
If itchy eyes are accompanied by swelling of the areas in front of ears, then you should report this to the nearest emergency room as this is indicative of a viral infection. The areas in front of the ears have lymph nodes and they are very important in trapping foreign objects and bacteria in the body. If they are swollen therefore, it means that you are suffering from a viral infection.
A lot of tearing
In an attempt to keep the conjunctiva supple and counter the dryness, your eyes will try and produce as much tears as possible. Your eyes are therefore going to look teary and wet at all times.
Clear thick, whitish drainage
If after sleeping your eyes have a thick, whitish discharge, then you should seek medical attention as this is indicative of a viral infection. The drainage is released by the eyes in an effort to keep the eyes supple and counter the irritation.
When to go to the emergency room for pink eyes
As earlier on mentioned, pink eyes are relatively harmless and will more often than not go away on their own. In some cases though, the viral pink eye can last more than a week and becomes chronic. If your pink eye lasts anything more than 5 days, you need to visit the nearest emergency room for urgent medical care.
Ignoring the viral pink eye puts your eyes in jeopardy and can potentially affect your vision.
How is a pink eye treated?
There is no current form of treatment for viral pink eye but there are special serums and gels that are applied to keep the conjunctiva supple as the body fights off the viral infection. In cases where the pink eye is caused by herpes, then some antiviral medicine is used to treat the pink eyes.
If you are in Texas and are suspecting that you are suffering from pink eye, head over to Bellaire Emergency Room here in Bellaire and we will provide you with the best possible care for your pink eye. We not only offer treatment for pink eyes but provide our patients with free information on how to stay safe from future infections.