Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is no day at the beach. This condition, though usually not a threat to your vision, is marked by inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane (conjunctiva) that lines your eyelid and covers the white part of your eyeball.
When small blood vessels in the eye become inflamed, they’re more visible. This is why people who have this condition often suffer from red or pink eyes. They may also experience an itchy feeling, crustiness and discharge in one or both eyes.
What’s the Cause?
But what’s the cause of pink eye and how do you prevent it? In kids and adults, pink eye is commonly caused by a bacterial or viral infection or an allergic reaction. In babies, an incompletely opened tear duct may be the culprit. The latter is very common, so new parents shouldn’t worry too much.
How to Prevent It
As far as prevention, some factors are in your control, while others are not. Risk factors for pink eye include:
- Exposure to something for which you have an allergy (allergic conjunctivitis)
- Exposure to someone infected with the viral or bacterial form of conjunctivitis
- Using contact lenses, especially extended-wear lenses
Personal hygiene also matters. Here’s what you can do an everyday basis to reduce the chances of experiencing pink eye. Avoid touching your eyes with your hands. Be sure to wash your hands often and use a clean towel and washcloth daily. (Never share linens.) Change your pillowcases often and wash them with hot water to kill any germs.
Throw away your eye cosmetics, such as mascara, every 90 days. Never share eye cosmetics or personal eye care items, as this can spread infection.
Get Some Relief
If you suspect you’re suffering from this condition, it’s important to err on the side of caution, especially if you work in food service. You don’t want to infect anyone else.
You can, however, try a few home remedies to ease the discomfort and help the infection clear up. For example, you can try a cool or warm compress with a clean towel, over-the-counter eye drops and taking a break from wearing contact lenses (if applicable).
If all else fails, head to the eye doctor if the infection lasts longer than a week. Too, a fever, pain or changes in vision can be a sign that something is amiss.
Your Midwest Consultants doctor will be able to determine whether the infection was caused by bacteria, a virus or an allergic reaction and identify the best type of treatment.