An introduction to pink eye

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As an acute inflammation, conjunctivitis has various symptoms, e.g. pink eye, burning, stinging, irritation and pain, among which pink eye is the most obvious and common one. As a result, conjunctivitis is usually called pink eye for easier understanding. Pink eye can occur in both the young and adults. Contagious pink eye spreads via coughing, sneezing, communal settings and similar channels. Frequent hand washing and disinfection spray are some of the common treatments. With a timely treatment, most cases of pink eye can be cured, while untreated and persistent pink eye can lead to a consequence as serious as vision loss.

Forms of conjunctivitis have different symptoms

The eye’s pink appearance comes from the sclera’s inflammation, which triggers those conjunctival blood vessels to dilate. As mentioned before, pink eye is only one of the symptoms and other different symptoms indicate various types of conjunctivitis, such as allergic conjunctivitis, bacterial conjunctivitis and viral conjunctivitis. Usually, itching, redness and excessive tearing result from allergic conjunctivitis, while heavy discharge is mainly associated with bacterial conjunctivitis and watering discharge results from viral conjunctivitis. Based on those different symptoms and their progression, an eye doctor can easily determine the exact type of conjunctivitis a patient has.

Children and new born infants are at a higher risk of pink eye

Pink eye occurs mostly in children, especially new born babies. Children get a cold more frequently and suffer more easily respiratory tract infections. Both of these two conditions can spread pink eye. For a new born baby, there are even more risks of pink eye. The contact with its mother may cause bacterial infections and the sexually transmitted disease on its mother can also bring infection to the child. For prior protection, silver nitrate and antibiotic ointment are always used to prevent any infection. Unfortunately, this treatment is ineffective for chlamydial conjunctivitis.

Some other reasons for pink eye

Pink eye can be caused by many other reasons. Improper handling of contact lenses may bring infection and pink eye sometimes follows. Various underlying diseases with inflammation also contribute to pink eye, such as Blepharitis, dry eye, Lyme disease, Reiter’s syndrome and so on. Once these diseases are cured, pink eye will disappear on its own.

Treatments for specific types of conjunctivitis

The treatment of pink eye is always in accordance with its cause. Bacterial conjunctivitis requires antibiotic eye ointment or drops, whereas allergic conjunctivitis should be treated with artificial tears to dilute irritating allergens. Viral conjunctivitis always clears up on its own without an external intervention.

How to prevent contagious conjunctivitis

Contagious types of conjunctivitis are easy to spread through many channels, so that the prevention work is more essential. For viral and bacterial conjunctivitis prevention, contaminated hand towels, washcloths, pillowcases, eye drops and eye shadow should never be shared. People with these types of conjunctivitis should wash hands frequently and protect the unaffected eye.

How to avoid allergic conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious, so that it is easier to be avoided. People should keep away from potential allergens such as airborne pollen, smoke, chemicals etc. Swimming goggles are effective for the protection from allergic conjunctivitis while swimming in a pool.

Tips of prevention for contact lens users

For contact lenses wearers, there are more things to do for pink eye prevention. They should always clean and disinfect their lenses and replace lens solution to avoid bacterial contamination. Extended wear lenses are more likely to bring infection, so that it is a must to replace them periodically. Wearers can switch to another type of contact lenses if the current type causes pink eye.