Pink eye is also known as conjunctivitis or inflammation of the conjunctiva (membrane that lines the eye). This inflammation results in engorged blood vessels causing the eye to appear red or pink.
Signs of conjunctivitis include redness, irritation, blurry vision, watering of clear liquid or yellow thick mucous material, crusting of the eye, sensitivity to light and having a gritty feeling in the eye.
There are several causes of conjunctivitis such as irritation from chemicals, infection from virus, bacteria, fungus, allergies or overuse of contact lens. One of the most common cause of pink eye is a viral infection and commonly occurs in children. Viral conjunctivitis can be associated with upper respiratory track infections such as flu or common cold or sore throats. There is usually a watery discharge without much pain. The infection usually starts in one eye and can spread to another. There are no specific treatment for viral conjunctivitis except for symptomatic relief from cold compresses and artificial tears. As always hand washing is very important to prevent from infection the other eye and others around you.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is due to bacteria leading to yellowish drainage or pus. This thicker drainage can cause more crusting and sticking of the eyelids shut especially after sleep. Sometimes the infection could involve the skin around the eye as well and definitely requires a physician to evaluate this since this can lead to other dangerous complications and extension of infection to even behind the eye. Even though bacterial conjunctivitis may resolve by itself in about three days, antibiotic eye drops or ointment may be needed after that.
Chemical conjunctivitis can be due to acids or bases (alkali) substances that get in the eye and the amount of injury and irritation depends on, concentration, type, length of time and amount of material that entered the eye. The first thing that must be done is to flush the eye with running water. These injuries usually require urgent medical attention.
If you have pink eye be sure to practice good hand hygine, take out your contact lens right away and seek medical attention. At CityMD urgent medical care the physicians can provide prompt evaluation for pink eye from newborns to adults. There is no appointment needed and you can walk in during the extended hours 365 days a year.