Pink eye or conjunctivitis is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the thin, transparent layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. Conjunctivitis, often called “pink eye,” is a common eye condition, especially in children. It may affect one or both eyes. Some forms of conjunctivitis can be highly contagious and easily spread in schools or at home and the workplace while other forms are not contagious. While conjunctivitis is usually a minor eye infection, it may develop into a more serious problem.
People with conjunctivitis may experience the following symptoms: a gritty feeling in one or both eyes, an itching or burning sensation in one or both eyes, excessive tearing, discharge from one or both eyes, swollen eyelids, and a pink discoloration to the whites of one or both eyes, and an increased sensitivity to light.
The cause of conjunctivitis varies depending on the offending agent. There are three main categories of conjunctivitis: allergic, infectious and chemical or toxic.
Allergic Conjunctivitis occurs more commonly among people who already have seasonal allergies.
Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis is a type of allergic conjunctivitis caused by the chronic presence of a foreign body in the eye. This condition occurs predominantly with people who wear contact lenses.
Bacterial Conjunctivitis is an infection most often caused by staphylococcal or streptococcal bacteria from your own skin or respiratory system. Infections can also occur by physical contact with other people and poor hygiene like touching the eye with unclean hands or by use of contaminated eye makeup.
Viral Conjunctivitis is most commonly caused by contagious viruses associated with the common cold. The primary means of contracting this is through exposure to coughing or sneezing by persons with upper respiratory tract infections. Viral conjunctivitis can be epidemic in schools which is why most children are sent home when they have “pink eye”. Viral conjunctivitis can last for up to three to four weeks.
Chemical or toxic Conjunctivitis results from exposure to irritants like air pollution, chlorine in swimming pools, and exposure to noxious chemicals.
Treatment of conjunctivitis has three main goals: to increase patient comfort, reduce or lessen the course of the infection or inflammation, and prevent the spread of the infection in contagious forms.
The appropriate treatment for conjunctivitis depends on its cause; removal of any irritants, cool compresses, artificial tears, topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, topical antihistamines, steroid eye drops, antibiotic drops and discontinuing contact lens wear until the conjunctivitis is resolved.
If you have questions concerning conjunctivitis, please contact our office in Stillwater at 405-372-1715. In the event you have conjunctivitis, be aware that the quicker treatment is initiated the less likely a long course of recovery will be experienced. At Cockrell Eyecare Center, we have a doctor on call and available seven days a week. By calling our number you can retrieve the cell phone number of the doctor on call. We also invite you to visit our website at www.cockrelleyecare.com and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center!