What is Conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, is an inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane that lines your eyelid and covers the white part of your eyeball. Pink eye is commonly caused by a bacterial infection, a viral infection, or an allergic reaction. Viral pink eye and bacterial pink eye are extremely contagious and spread easily, which makes prevention very important.
Symptoms of Conjunctivitis
The most common symptoms of pink eye include:
- Redness, itchiness, and/or gritty feeling in one or both eyes
- Thick yellow or green discharge (sign of a bacterial infection)
- Thin or clear discharge from the eye (sign of a viral or allergic reaction)
- Sensitivity to light (eyes may feel extremely painful)
- Eyes stuck shut when you wake up in the morning
While pink eye can be irritating, it rarely causes long-term effects on your vision. However, it is important to seek medical attention and treatment in order to confirm that the symptoms are not due to a more serious problem. With early diagnosis and proper treatment, you can help to limit its spread.
Diagnosing Acute Conjunctivitis
Acute conjunctivitis is normally diagnosed based on physical exam and medical history. In rare cases, it may be difficult to diagnose without doing laboratory testing in which the doctor will collect a sample of eye discharge from the infected eye and send it to the laboratory to help them determine which form of infection you have and how best to treat it.
Acute conjunctivitis, if bacterial in origin, is typically treated with antibiotic eye drops. Infections caused by a virus are usually treated with antiviral eye drops. A thorough examination can determine if you need medication and what kind will work best for your infection. For at-home comfort, gently apply a cool or warm compress on the eye area. To avoid spreading the infection, wash your hands immediately with soap and water after touching your infected eye and avoid touching your nose, mouth and other eye if it is not affected. Also, do not let others handle your medication and dispose of your medication once treatment has been completed.