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Overview and Effects of Pink Eye
Pinkeye, or conjunctivitis, is the swelling and redness of the conjunctiva, which is the mucous membrane that lines the eyelid and the eye surface. When present, the eye lining becomes red and swollen, whereas the normal eye lining is clear. Pinkeye is very common, not too serious, and the symptoms will usually subside in 7-10 days without any medical treatment. There are two forms, or causes of pink eye. The first type, and most common form, is viral pinkeye. Since a virus is the cause there is no medical treatment for this form. Prevention is the key. The sharing of an object such as a washcloth or towel can easily spread this infection. The second type of pinkeye is bacterial. Bacterial pinkeye needs to be treated with an antibiotic to kill the bacteria that causes the infection.
The common symptom of pinkeye is also where it gets its common name, a red or pink eye. Other symptoms that can occur simultaneously are eye soreness, more tearing than normal, feeling like there is a foreign object in the eye, an itching or burning sensation, drainage, and a mild sensitivity to light. Pinkeye can also be much more problematic if the person suffers from a depressed immune system, has vision in only one eye, or wears contact lenses. As with any eye problem, care needs to be taken to ensure that the problem is pinkeye, and not a more serious issue that needs to be addressed quickly by a medical professional.
Treatment and Prevention
Home treatment of pinkeye is usually done to reduce the pain, and to keep the eye free of drainage. If you wear contact lenses, remove them (and wear your prescription glasses) until the symptoms have subsided. Also, make sure to thoroughly clean both the contact lenses and the case in which they are stored. A cold or warm compress may be used to help alleviate the symptoms. If the infection is caused by an allergy, a cold compress may make the eye feel better. If the infection is viral, a warm compress may help to alleviate the pain. Remember, however, to use a different compress for each eye, as it will easily spread from one eye to the other. Use a clean compress for each application. When cleaning the eye, make sure to wipe from the inside (nose side) to the outside, making sure to use a clean compress every time. Also, remove the washcloth or wipe so that the infection is not spread. Clean and wash hands thoroughly afterwards.
The spread of pinkeye can be prevented by washing your hands after touching or cleaning your eye, and also after you apply any medicine in the eye. Other precautions should be taken as well such as: not using or sharing eye makeup, not sharing contact lens equipment, solution or containers, not sharing linens or towels, and wearing eye protection when in the wind, heat, or cold, and also while using any chemicals that can spill into the eye. Infected individuals should not attend work, school, or daycare for 3-5 days for a viral infection, and for 24 hours after first taking antibiotics to combat the bacterial cause of the infection.
Pinkeye is a very common infection that is usually not too serious. Care must be taken so as not to spread the infection once you realize that you are infected. The key to combating this infection is prevention. Washing hands and not sharing linens and towels will go a long way to accomplishing this goal. In conclusion, pinkeye is a common disease that can be easily prevented. A little good hygiene can go a long way towards prevention of this and many other communicable diseases.
Web MD (https://www.webmd.com/)