What You Need To Know About Red Eyes

Conjunctivitis is commonly called “pink eye” by the general population because one of the recognizable symptoms is the intense redness covering the white of the eye. It manifests with inflammation of the conjunctiva – the transparent mucous membrane that covers the white part of the eye known as the sclera. Conjunctivitis can be infectious when caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi and is non-infectious when caused by allergies, chemicals, or other foreign bodies in the eye. The three most common types of conjunctivitis are bacterial, viral, and allergic, and we’ll be covering those today!  

Bacterial conjunctivitis occurs when there’s an infection in the eye caused by bacteria present through some source of contamination. The bacteria spreads from direct contact with someone who has conjunctivitis or a sinus or ear infection already, or by coming into contact with something they’ve touched.

Bacterial conjunctivitis often creates a thick discharge or pus from the eyes and can infect one or both eyes. Treatment for this condition, like any bacterial infection, usually requires antibiotics and in the case of pink eye it is in the form of ointments and eye drops used for two weeks, or longer in severe cases. This infection is not truly contagious, but can be spread easily to the other eye.

Allergic conjunctivitis happens when in contact with a substance the individual is allergic or especially sensitive to, such as dust mites, pollen, or pet dander. Treatment for this is usually whatever is taken to alleviate the other symptoms of the allergy. The allergic form is not contagious and the most common symptom is itchy eyes. Watery eyes will also be present.

Eye drops containing antihistamines should relieve the symptoms, and they can be purchased over-the-counter or, for extreme cases, there are prescription eye drops with heavier doses. The best treatment, however, is avoidance of the allergen whenever possible! Don’t forget to look at things you wouldn’t normally think of, such as new face lotions or laundry detergents, as these can often be the culprit.

Viral conjunctivitis is very contagious since viruses that are airborne easily spread through coughing and sneezing. The viruses causing this form can come from people with a common cold, the flu, or upper respiratory infections or symptoms of the same from infectious diseases such as measles.

Viral pink eye is often accompanied by a watery discharge and starts with just one eye before migrating to the other a few days later. There is no medical treatment for viral conjunctivitis – antibiotics don’t work on viruses, and ointments or eye drops won’t fix the problem either, though they may help to ease some of the symptoms. Usually, the virus works its way out of the system in a week or two. Symptoms typically feel the worst during days three through five, and then improvement begins, so don’t worry. Relief is ahead!

The best way to avoid spreading any of the conditions above is to practice proper hand washing and hygiene. Make sure to visit your optometrist to find out exactly what type of red eye you have! Have you ever suffered from a red eye? Do you know what type you had?

One Love,

Dr. Travis Zigler

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SOURCE: http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/conjunctivitis-types.htm

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