Having healthy eyes is something many of us take for granted. Unless one is visually impaired, they wake up, open their eyes, and go on about their day without giving their sight a second thought.
Yet, as soon as there’s a visual disturbance or a change to the eye’s appearance, worry creeps in. Why do your eyes look pink? Why are they so itchy? And how can you get them back to their healthy state?
One common eye condition that causes irritation is conjunctivitis (more commonly known as “pink eye”).
What is Pink Eye?
Conjunctivitis refers to inflammation of the conjunctiva. This is the clear, thin layer that covers the front surface of the eyes and lines the inside of the eyelids.
When such inflammation occurs, the small blood vessels in the eyes expand, making the whites of the eyes look pink or light red.
What Causes Conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis can be caused by several different things:
- An allergic reaction
- A foreign object in the eye
- Wearing contact lenses that weren’t cleaned properly
- A viral infection
If the pink eye is the result of a virus or bacteria, the condition is contagious at some stages.
Symptoms of Pink Eye
The symptoms of conjunctivitis are fairly obvious:
- Red eye
- Crusting while sleeping
When to See a Doctor
While most cases of conjunctivitis clear up on their own, see a doctor if you’re also experiencing pain, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, if your symptoms don’t improve within a couple of days, or if you have a weakened immune system due to an underlying illness, such as lupus, cancer, HIV, or hepatitis.
Pink Eye Diagnosis and Treatment
In most cases of conjunctivitis, it is not necessary to visit a doctor for a diagnosis. If you do schedule a doctor appointment, they’ll be able to diagnose it by taking a look at your eyes. If the condition is severe, or if your doctor suspects an underlying condition, you’ll be asked additional questions about symptoms and health history.
In rare cases, the doctor will take a sample of the liquid in your eyes for further analysis.
If you wear contact lenses, take a break from them until the condition clears up. If it’s a recurring issue every time you wear lenses, consider switching to one-day disposable contacts.
If the condition was caused by bacteria, your doctor may prescribe eye drops. If it was caused by a virus, you’ll just have to wait it out until the illness runs its course.
Home Remedies for Pink Eye
If the condition was caused by a foreign object in the eye, flush the eye with cold water.
Other ways to reduce irritation include holding a cold compress against the eye or applying eyedrops/artificial tears if you’re experiencing eye dryness.
If the irritation was caused by allergies, remove the allergen from your home. Change air filters, close windows, and purchase dust mite covers for bedding.
Complications of Pink Eye
If you don’t take measures to alleviate the symptoms of conjunctivitis, it could result in inflammation of the cornea, also known as keratitis. As a result, your vision could be affected.
Risk Factors for Getting Pink Eye
Risk factors of conjunctivitis include being exposed to someone who has it. Therefore, if you are experiencing it, take a couple of days off from school or work to avoid spreading it to others.
If you’re prone to pink eye and you wear contact lenses, opt for disposable ones and disinfect contact lens cases regularly.
If you suffer from allergies, install HEPA air filters in your home.
Pink Eye Prevention
There are several things you can do to prevent contracting or spreading conjunctivitis:
- Avoid rubbing your eyes
- Wash your hands regularly
- Change your pillowcases regularly
- Do not share makeup or cosmetics
- Throw away cosmetics and eye makeup if you’ve already been sick
- Do not share towels
- Avoid allergy triggers
24-Hour Emergency Room Services in Colorado Springs and Texas
If you think you have pink eye, we can provide the care you need at one of our Urgent Care facilities. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.
Find the Complete Care location nearest you.