Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is an infection of the membrane that lines your eyelid and covers the white of your eye. Pink eye is usually mildly irritating, but can be extremely contagious, so it’s important to get it treated as soon as possible.
Common symptoms include:
- The white part of your eye appearing pink
- An eye that is itchy, watery or irritated
- An eye that is sealed shut with discharge upon waking up
Because so many things can cause redness or irritation in the eye (like an allergy or a foreign body in the eye), see a doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. Your doctor will be able to diagnose the causes of irritation. Pink eye can be caused by either a virus or a bacteria. Viral pink eye is very contagious and can quickly spread between people. Viral pink eye cannot be treated with antibiotics, and treatment is usually focused on symptom relief, like clearing discharge from the eye with eye drops, or applying a warm or cold compress to reduce irritation.
In the case of an infection that is bacterial instead of viral, your doctor might recommend an antibiotic eye drop. If you have other symptoms associated with the infection, like an earache, cough or running nose, an oral antibiotic might be recommended. As a pink eye infection can spread to other parts of the body, a doctor can make sure that the infection is contained.
Prevent the spread of pink eye by not touching your eyes with your hands. Wash your hands often, and don’t share personal eye products, like mascara, eyeliner, or eye shadow with others.
Contact Hampton Family Practice immediately for an appointment if you or your child is showing signs of pink eye.