Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is a common condition affecting 3 million Americans each year. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the thin layer that covers the white of the eye and the inside of the eyelids. It can affect one or both eyes, causing discomfort.
According to the American Optometric Association, People with conjunctivitis may experience the following symptoms:
A gritty feeling in one or both eyes
Itching or burning sensation in one or both eyes
Discharge from one or both eyes
Pink discoloration to the whites of one or both eyes
Increased sensitivity to light
The causes of conjunctivitis can be bacterial, viral, allergic or from another source. If you have mild symptoms of discomfort, a red eye and some white/yellow/green discharge, you can usually treat it with over the counter antibiotics from your pharmacist. Any pain or severe redness or inflammation should be checked out by your general practitioner immediately. Conjunctivitis can be very contagious, so ensure you wash your hands thoroughly after touching your face and try not to share towels and face-cloths.
Treatment options for conjunctivitis are dictated by what has caused your symptoms. There are, basically, four different kinds of this condition: allergic, bacterial, viral, and chemical. The end goal of all treatment is to make you more comfortable, reduce the inflammation and/or infection, and stop it from spreading.
Bacterial Conjunctivitis: This form of the condition necessitates a course of antibiotics to eliminate your symptoms. These antibiotics come in both drops or ointments. Once you start treatment, you can expect to see improvement after 3-4 days.
Viral Conjunctivitis: Cool compresses and tear solutions are your best tools for combating symptoms of the viral form of this condition. Antibiotics won’t work on a viral infection.
Allergic Conjunctivitis: When your symptoms are triggered by an allergen, the first thing we do is eliminate it–if possible. Artificial tears, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications and antihistamines can be effective at offering relief. Occasionally it is necessary for patients to use a prescription topical steroid eye drops.
Chemical Conjunctivitis: The least common form of this condition is caused from exposure to chemical. These forms can be quite serious. Flushing the eyes with saline can help relieve symptoms. Flush your eye for several minutes with lots of water if you get a chemical in your eye then call your provider immediately.
Conjunctivitis is an irritating, painful condition that can seriously impact your ability to go through your day normally. Acting on symptoms right when they present is critical to ease their intensity and to get rid of the contagious bacteria related to the condition. If you think you may have contracted conjunctivitis, call our office today to make an appointment. Located at two convenient Denver locations–King Soopers Shopping Center off of South Monaco Parkway in Denver and at the Brentwood Shopping Center on Federal Boulevard–Optical Masters can offer you top-rate eye care services and help you with your eye health goals.