Pink eye is a childcare worker’s worst nightmare. Bacterial or viral forms of pink eye can spread rapidly between children and infect adults as well. However, inflammation and infection of the eyes can also be caused by a number of other things, including prolonged use of contact lenses, allergies, and exposure to chemicals.
At Harlem VistaSite Eye Care in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, Brittni Rodriguez, OD, can accurately diagnose what has caused pink eye in you or your child and prescribe a treatment to alleviate the symptoms.
An overview of pink eye
Pink eye isn’t a specific illness on its own. In fact, it’s an umbrella term that refers to the inflammation of the outer eye. Your conjunctiva is a thin membrane that covers your eyeball, and it contains tiny blood vessels. If this membrane becomes inflamed, it causes your eye to itch, swell, and tear up.
Common causes of pink eye include:
- Bacterial infections, which can be cleared up with antibiotic eye drops
- Viral infections, which typically resolve on their own after a few days
- Allergies, which can be treated with antihistamine drops and over-the-counter drugs
- Irritants, such as chemicals, foreign objects, and even contact lenses, which need to be removed or avoided so the eye can return to normal
It can be difficult to diagnose the exact cause of pink eye without a doctor, but symptoms can vary depending on what’s causing it. For example, allergic conjunctivitis typically occurs in both eyes, and it usually comes with an itchy, runny nose.
In cases where newborns are involved, it’s important to seek help for pink eye as soon as possible. Pink eye in newborns can indicate a damaging infection or a blocked tear duct.
Preventing pink eye
You can prevent pink eye by practicing good hygiene, especially if you work in a childcare setting or wear contacts. Here are some tips on preventing pink eye in you and your children:
- Wash your hands often, and avoid touching your eyes
- Replace eye makeup, especially mascara, frequently
- Never share eye drops, mascara, or contact lenses
- Take out and clean your contact lenses every day
- Regularly wash your towels and pillowcases
- Use eye protection when working with caustic or gaseous chemicals
If you get a case of viral or bacterial pink eye, make sure to throw away or clean everything that touches your face. This includes mascara bottles, eye drop bottles, pillowcases, towels, and contact lenses.
It’s important to get cases of pink eye diagnosed and treated by a doctor. A doctor can diagnose the exact cause of the inflammation and provide medications to soothe and treat the issue. Even if your pink eye is just caused by allergies or a viral infection, your doctor can give you advice on how to find relief and avoid damaging your eyes.
Are you suffering from what might be a case of pink eye? Has your child woken up with red, crusty eyes that weep or recrust after washing? To get a thorough evaluation and treatment, book an appointment online or over the phone with Harlem VistaSite Eye Care today.