Pink Eye: What to Look Out For

Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is an inflammation of the thin membrane lining the inner eyelid or white part of the eye. When inflamed, the eye turns pink or red, hence its name. Treatment of conjunctivitis depends on its root of cause. Possible causes include infections from viruses, bacteria, allergens, pollutants and underlying diseases of the body. Common symptoms of conjunctivitis include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Watery eyes
  • White, green or yellow mucous discharge
  • Crusting and stickiness around eyelids especially upon awakening
  • Itching or burning sensation
  • Swollen and tender areas in front of the ears

Conjunctivitis of viral and bacterial origin can be highly contagious. Tips for prevention of spreading the infection include frequent hand washing, avoidance of touching eyes and avoidance of sharing common objects such as towels, linens and make-up.

If you suspect you have conjunctivitis, it is important to have your eyes checked for medical treatment. Be careful not to use eye drops prescribed from previous infections or those prescribed for someone else as they can be inappropriate and can exacerbate your current infection.

Happy First Day of Spring: Relief for Eye Allergy Misery

Itchy, watery, or swollen eyes? Light sensitive? You may have allergic conjunctivitis — inflammation of tissue lining the eyelids. Exposure to allergens releases histamines and the conjunctiva (clear membrane covering the “white” of the eye) swell. Pollen, pet dander, and perfumes can all trigger allergies.

Wrap-around sunglasses can prevent allergens from entering the eyes. Artificial tears temporarily wash allergens out. Antihistamine drops alleviate itchy eyes. Oral antihistamines can reduce itchiness, but can dry out eyes. Decongestant drops, labeled as “red eye relief,” will initially decrease redness, but dry out eyes and increase redness long-term. If none of these works, ask your optometrist about mast cell stabilizer drops, or for chronic and severe cases, corticosteroids.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends all eye allergy sufferers visit their eye doctor. Eye allergies don’t usually harm your eyesight, but there are some rare conditions such as eczema that can. Since there are so many options to treat eye allergies, it is best to have your eye doctor diagnose the problem and discuss the right treatment for you.