What is Pink Eye? Pink Eye is a term for conjunctivitis. It is an eye condition in which inflammation occurs to the conjunctiva, which is the thin clear tissue that lies over the white part of the eye & also inside of the eyelids. The conjunctiva is transparent & contains blood vessels that overlap the sclera of the eye. Anything that causes inflammation will cause the conjunctiva blood vessels to expand. This causes the eyes to turn pink/red. Pink Eye can occur in people of all ages. Infectious conjunctivitis is quite common in children in comparison to adults. This is because bacteria & viruses easily spread in children during playing. What Causes Pink Eye? A Pink Eye can happen by three causes–
- Bacterial conjunctivitis – Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria & it can cause serious damage to the eye if left untreated.
- Viral conjunctivitis – Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious but generally passes away itself within several days.
- Allergic conjunctivitis – Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by eye irritants such as pollen, dust & pet dander. Allergic conjunctivitis may be seasonal (if caused by pollen) or may occur at any time of the year (if caused by dust or pet dander).
Eye irritants can be household cleaners, sprays, smoke, foreign objects, smog & industrial pollutants. A Pink Eye is caused by contact with the eye fluid which contains the virus or bacteria. Touching an infected eye leaves the infected eye fluid on your hand. If you touch your other eye or an object when you have the fluid on your hand, the virus or bacteria can spread. Pink Eye Symptoms Diagnosis of the type of Pink Eye is made by an eye specialist based on the signs & symptoms of the patient. Depending on the cause of Pink Eye, there are different symptoms observed in patients- Bacterial Conjunctivitis – Here a sticky, yellow or greenish-yellow eye discharge from the corner of the eye occurs. Sometimes the discharge is so sticky that it causes the eyelids to get stuck together severely after waking up from sleep. Bacterial Pink Eye is communicable due to direct contact with infected hands or items that have touched the eye. Hence, this can occur in one or both the eyes. Viral Conjunctivitis – Viral Pink Eye is highly contagious & can spread by coughing & sneezing. In this, the patient experiences severe watery, itchy eyes & sensitivity to light. The eye discharge is not yellow or green. One or both the eyes can be affected in this & the eyes turn pink/red intensely. Swollen eyelids also occur in viral Pink Eye. Allergic Conjunctivitis – In allergic Pink Eye, the patient experiences watery, burning & itchy eyes along with a runny nose & light sensitivity. Eye itching is severe & can become worse by rubbing the eyes. An allergic Pink Eye has other allergic symptoms like sneezing, itchy nose, scratchy throat. The patient can also have a blurred vision. This type of Pink Eye is not communicable from one person to another. Usually, both the eyes are affected by this. Pink Eye Prevention After understanding about viral, bacterial & allergic Pink Eye causes & symptoms, it is essential to know how you can prevent a Pink Eye or reduce its severity if it has occurred to you or someone in your family. Here are some simple precautions you can follow to reduce your risk of getting a Pink Eye-
- Maintain a good personal & household hygiene is very important to prevent the spreading of infectious conjunctivitis.
- Avoid contact with people who have conjunctivitis.
- Wash your pillow covers, handkerchiefs, towels & linens regularly. Do not share them with anyone.
- Clean surfaces like doorknobs, kitchen countertops, bathroom products, taps & handles & shared mobile phones with an appropriate antiseptic cleaner.
- Avoid rubbing & touching your eyes. Wash your hands if you touch your eyes without using protective gloves.
- Wash your hands & use disposable paper towels for drying your hands. Wash hands frequently when spending time at school or in other public places.
- Do not share eye drops, ointments, facecloths, towels, & pillow covers.
- Keep a hand sanitizer & use it frequently.
- Do not use eye makeup until the infection is fully cured.
- Do not share eye medicine, contact lens equipment, containers or solutions.
- When in the wind, heat, or cold, wear eye protection to prevent eye irritation.
- Wash your hands & wear gloves if you are looking into someone else’s eye or helping them apply an eye medicine.
Despite taking proper precautions, a Pink Eye can develop. If it has happened to you or someone else, be kind to others & take precautions on your end to prevent the infection from spreading. Always consult an eye specialist to ensure that a Pink Eye is not a symptom of other eye problem. Take the prescribed medication & follow proper hygiene & sanitization in & around yourself.