Pink eye, also commonly known as conjunctivitis, is an infection of the eye that just keeps on giving. Below is a basic overview of the infection including common causes, likely symptoms, and how to treat and prevent the infection.
What are the Most Common Causes of Pink Eye?
While there are a number of pink eye causes, the two most common are viral and bacterial.
Unfortunately, both viral and bacterial pink eye are contagious and can easily be caught in large crowds, such as at school or at the office. While bacterial pink eye is more common in children, mostly due to poor hand washing skills, children and adults alike are able to contract both forms of the condition and pass it on to others.
What are the Symptoms of Pink Eye?
Pink eye can present on its own, or in addition to a cold or bacterial infection. To better know which form of pink eye you have, it's important to pay close attention to symptoms.
Viral pink eye usually has a watery discharge and may accompany a cold or similar virus. It's easy to write this off as a symptom of the cold, but if your eyes are itchy and red along with the excess discharge, it's likely pink eye and should be treated as such.
Bacterial pink eye, on the other hand, is much more easily diagnosed as the discharge is thicker and may be yellow or green. Your eye will likely be pink or red, and the buildup can happen overnight, making it difficult to open your eyes upon waking.
How is Pink Eye Treated and Prevented?
The treatment you receive will depend on the cause, but prevention is similar for both viral and bacterial pink eye.
If your pink eye is viral, there's unfortunately nothing that can be done to treat it and it must run its course, which is anywhere from a few days to two weeks. Bacterial pink eye, however, should be treated with a round of antibiotics as soon as it's diagnosed. Certain bacterial strains can cause complications if not treated immediately, which is why timely treatment is so important.
Prevention of pink eye, whether viral or bacterial, all comes down to basic hygiene. It's important to wash hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes as much as possible. Anything that touches the eyes, such as towels and makeup, should never be shared and should be clean when used.
To learn more about pink eye, its symptoms, and how to properly care for and prevent it from spreading, consult with your doctor or eye doctor.