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.

The Wrong Eye Drops Can Damage Your Eyes

Red eyes are commonly caused by dryness, allergens, infection or tiredness. Most people seek relief with over-the-counter eye drops, but are they the appropriate remedy? Eye drops packaged as ‘relief for red eyes’ can actually worsen your condition. Commercial eye drops are decongestants, which shrink the outer blood vessels in the whites of your eyes. They decrease the redness, but dry out the eyes. Eventually, the redness comes back and more decongestant drops are used, developing a dependency on the drops to reduce redness. Additionally, decongestants mask the underlying cause of redness.

Should symptoms persist, you may have an infection or conjunctivitis, which will need a prescription. Do not self medicate. It is vitally important to have your optometrist evaluate your eyes to determine the underlying problem, obtain the suitable medication, and apply proper treatment.