Are your eyes itchy, swollen, and pink? If so, you may be suffering from conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye. Pink eye is frequently associated with children, but it is a common problem for people of all ages. “Anyone can get pink eye, but preschoolers, schoolchildren, college students, teachers, and daycare workers are particularly at risk for the contagious types of pink eye due to their close proximity with others,” says Dr. Terry Buzzard, Chief Medical Officer at Physicians Immediate Care. Pink eye is highly contagious and often requires medical treatment, depending on the cause. So, it is important to know the symptoms, get treatment, and prevent its spread.
What is it?
Pink eye, or Conjunctivitis, is an inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane that lines your eyelid and covers the white parts of your eyes. Pink eye may be caused by viruses, bacteria, or allergens.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is highly contagious and often results in a red eye with pus. Viral conjunctivitis is also contagious and usually causes a watery mucous discharge. This type of pink eye is caused by the same virus that causes the common cold. Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious and is caused by your body reacting to an allergen or irritant. The primary symptom of this form of pink eye is itching.
Symptoms of pink eye include:
- A gritty feeling
- Crust on your eyelids or lashes
- Feeling like something is stuck in your eye
Early diagnosis and treatment helps to limit the spread of pink eye and protects people around you from also getting it. If you wear contact lenses, you should remove your lenses and wear glasses until you have been examined by your doctor. You can also help prevent pink eye by following these precautions:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Avoid touching your eyes
- Only use clean towels and washcloths
- Wash your pillowcases and bed sheets often
- Don’t share eye makeup or eye care items
If you think that you or your child has pink eye, you should see your doctor or visit Physicians Immediate Care for diagnosis and treatment right away. “Conditions associated with conjunctivitis may include a variety of other eye conditions, including infections, injuries, contacts lens use, dry eyes, and allergies. Conjunctivitis can be a sign of a more serious eye problem such as a corneal ulcer, or other conditions, which if not treated promptly, may cause permanent vision loss. Certainly anyone with severe eye pain, vision loss, or light sensitivity should be evaluated immediately,” says Dr. Buzzard.
At Physicians Immediate Care, we treat a variety of illnesses, including pink eye, and all of our locations are open 7 days a week with extended hours – no appointment necessary! To avoid the line, you can also go online and reserve your time.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Pink Eye: Usually Mild and Easy to Treat,” http://www.cdc.gov/features/conjunctivitis/
American Academy of Ophthalmology, “Conjunctivitis: What Is Pink Eye?” http://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/pink-eye-conjunctivitis