Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is the inflammation of the membrane lining the eye, caused by a bacterial or viral infection or by an allergic reaction. Symptoms include discharge, tearing, eye pain, redness, blurred vision and sensitivity to light. While allergic conjunctivitis isn’t contagious, infectious conjunctivitis is highly contagious for several days or even several weeks, and can spread from eye to eye and to others if precautions aren’t taken.
Bacterial conjunctivitis: Distinguished from other forms of conjunctivitis by the crust-forming pus-like discharges that occur at night, bacterial conjunctivitis is the most common form. When the eye produces tears or discharge, any bacteria in the fluids can be transmitted to others. This makes infection through casual contact likely, spreading quickly through a household, classroom or office. Although bacterial conjunctivitis will resolve itself on its own within a week or two, treatment with antibiotic eye drops can resolve symptoms within a few days.
Viral conjunctivitis: The discharge from viral conjunctivitis is watery and is easily spread. Unfortunately, the only treatment for viral conjunctivitis is artificial tears, with symptoms lasting for a 5 days up to three weeks. Since eye discharges can transmit the virus to other people, direct contact with the infected eye should be avoided as much as possible. When pinkeye is caused by a virus, a person can return to school or work when symptoms begin to improve.
Frequent and thorough hand washing will help prevent the spread of either form of infectious conjunctivitis. The reason why it spreads so easily is because of poor hand-washing. Don’t share washcloths and towels with other family members, and be sure to clean them with hot water to kill any bacteria or virus. You should also disinfect communal objects like telephones, door knobs and faucets with antibacterial solution. Refrain from sharing eye makeup, or using it on both an infected and infected eye. Also, avoid touching the eyes and shaking hands.
Contact lens wearers should refrain from wearing contacts while infected, and thoroughly disinfect lenses before wearing them again. Disposable contacts should be thrown out. With pink eye exposure possible in water courses like unchlorinated water, it’s always a good idea to wear goggles when swimming.
The incubation period for pink eye varies from a few days to a few weeks. Fortunately, people don’t appear to be contagious in the incubation period before pink eye symptoms begin, but once those symptoms occur, we must be sure to take the necessary precautions to limit and prevent its spread.
If you have concerns about symptoms of pink eye. or are in need of treatment, please call our eye care specialists at 877-871-1684.
Leave a reply