It’s very likely that either you or a family member have dealt with conjunctivitis at some point in your life. Also known as pink eye or red eye two of the three forms are extremely contagious and none are a lot of fun to deal with.
There are three kinds of pink eye; allergic, viral, and bacterial. All three types cause inflammation of the conjunctiva – the membrane on the inside of the eyelid and the outside of the eye. The effect is hard to miss. Eyes are red, puffy, and typically irritated. Proper diagnosis is important to ensure the right treatment is administered.
Like all allergic reactions, this type of conjunctivitis is triggered by harmless stimuli that your body responds to as though it were a danger to your system. Environmental and household debris and particles like dust, pollen, and dander can make your eyes react. It is usually accompanied by sinus congestion or a runny nose.
The same medication used to treat any allergic reaction will do fine against this form of conjunctivitis. It is often a seasonal condition, so keeping medication on hand in spring and fall is beneficial. Talk to your optometrist about the best way to treatment your allergic eyes.
Just as the name suggests, this form of pink eye is caused by a virus. It is very contagious and can cause your eyes to be extra sensitive toward light, swollen and red. Symptoms include watering and discharge. Coughing or sneezing can take this virus airborne, so those with this condition should avoid going to work or to school. Instead, seek medical attention.
Unfortunately, viral conjunctivitis must run its course on its own. Your body fights off viruses regularly and can fight this one. However, it is important to see a doctor to ensure you do not have have a bacterial form of red eye. Your eye doctor may be able to recommend or prescribe supportive therapies to make you more comfortable and speed up recovery. This includes artificial tears, cold compresses, or topical steroids.
Conjunctivitis caused by a bacteria is what most people think of when you mention pink eye. This form is characterized by the same red inflammation of the eyes, but with the added bonus of yellow or greenish discharge. This mucous can be so thick it can glue the eyelids shut in the morning. Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by harmful bacteria and requires medical attention.
In the case of bacterial pink eye, antibiotics will be prescribed. They are usually in the form of eye drops, ointment, or oral medication. To avoid reinfection and to keep others in the home from contracting pink eye, it’s important that sheets, towels, or other items in the household that may be infected get washed. Refrain from going to work or school if you have bacterial conjunctivitis.
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