Conjunctivitis or commonly known as ‘pink eye’ is a form of inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva. Conjunctiva is the transparent membrane that lines the eyelid and white part of the eyeball. It contains small blood vessels that are normally less visible but when these small blood vessels get inflamed, they become more visible. This is the reason behind the reddish or pink appearance of an eye in conjunctivitis and the name ‘pink eye’.
The major cause of pink eye is inflammation and this inflammation can be a result of a lot of different factors. Some of the common causative factors are allergic reaction, bacterial infection, viral infection, foreign body in the eye, accidental chemical splash in eye, or blocked tear duct as seen in babies. It is an irritating and contagious condition but, it does not cause visual impairment. Some of the common symptoms are itching & redness of eyes, tearing, discharge, and a gritty feeling in both eyes.
Although pink eye can resolve on its own within 2 weeks, treatments can be considered to ease the discomfort of the patient. As it is a contagious condition, early diagnosis and treatment can help limit the spread of this disease. Here are some tips on how to properly deal with pink eye:
- Find the cause:
Once you have established the fact that you have a pink eye, you need to find out the exact cause of your condition to start specific, cause-based treatment plan. A viral infection is one of the most common causes. You will experience cold and upper respiratory tract symptoms with pink eye if the cause is a viral infection. Similarly, pink eye caused by bacterial infection will follow an ear or strep infection. It is best to seek medical help if you experience other symptoms along with pink eye.
- Maintain good hygiene:
If you have only one eye suffering from pink eye then it is crucial to not affect the other eye or else it will prolong the duration of the condition. It is a contagious condition so, hygiene plays a key role in the treatment and spread of this disease. It is advised that you wash your hands as much as possible especially, after touching your eye. Change your pillowcase and bed covers daily and use a clean towel. If you wear contact lenses then get rid of your contact lenses or any eye product like mascara, liner, etc. Do not share your eye products or anything that touches your eye with others.
- Soothe your eye:
You can place a damp towel and dishcloth on your eye to clear any discharge from your eye. Lubricating eye drops as ‘artificial tears’ can also help soothe the eyes and reduce the discomfort. To reduce irritation, over-the-counter pain killers can also be taken. Seek medical help if any other symptoms develop like cold, fever, etc.
- Stay away from herbs:
Do not apply any kind of herb or food to your eyes to cure pink eye. These are not sterile and scientifically proven remedies and may worsen your condition so stay away from these as much as possible.
When to see a doctor?
If your condition is not getting better or you experience any of the following symptoms then rush to a doctor ASAP:
– Light sensitivity
– Severe eye pain
– Visual impairment
– A large amount of pus/mucus discharge
– High fever
– Blotchy red rash