The common eye condition called conjunctivitis is usually referred to as Pink eye. It is a condition that is seen among some pets and domestic animals too; however it is most noticeable among humans since there is a large visible white area in the human eyes. Pink eye is actually the inflammation of the conjunctiva, or the outer most layer of the eye and the inner layer of the eyelids. This pink eye condition could be due to an infection or caused by an allergic reaction. The symptoms of pink eye/conjunctivitis may vary in accordance with the type of conjunctivitis:
- Allergic pink eye usually has symptoms such as reddening of the eye, some swelling and itchiness. Sometimes the itchiness can be very acute and rubbing the eyes may exacerbate the situation. There could also be some discharge from the eyes.
- Viral pink eye is sometimes associated with cold, sore throat or other respiratory tract infection. There could be a watery discharge and some itching of the eyes here.
- Bacterial conjunctivitis usually produces pus to be discharged from the eyes which causes the eyelids to stick together, particularly in the morning when one wakes up from sleep. Sometimes there is crusting of the eyes and surrounding area. There is a gritty, scratchy feeling in the eyes and the pus could be grayish or yellowish in color. Some pink eye infections can be painful.
- In chemical pink eye, there is severe pain and marked redness.
Pink eye treatment also depends upon the kind of pink eye the person suffers from:
- Allergic pink eye treatment includes cool water to be poured over the face which may constrict capillaries and relieve discomfort. If the symptoms are persistent or acute, steroid drops could be required to relieve the condition.
- Treatment for bacterial pink eye is required only if the situation is not resolved after three days, by which time many cases resolve themselves without medication. Antibiotics do speed up recovery, however even without them, there is no serious effect noted.
- Treatment of pink eye, which is viral in nature, is not of any particular type; mostly it is symptomatic relief from the irritation in the eyes. Artificial tears and cold compresses are seen to be effective for relieving the symptoms. When it is a viral infection that is causing pink eye, it is important not to keep touching the eyes and maintaining good hand hygiene so as not to spread the infection to others. It is also important to limit spread of the conjunctivitis infection by not sharing washcloths, and/or towels.
- Pink eye Treatment when there has been a chemical accident (alkali burns) should be treated as a medical emergency. This can lead to eye damage as well as scarring and so should get treatment immediately. Pink eye treatment in this case could include saline solutions or Ringer’s Lactate to be used.
Contrary to some beliefs, conjunctivitis does not spread by looking into the eyes of the infected person. The reason why many wear dark glasses when infected is because the sight of red, swollen eyes with discharge may be unseemly.