By the time we reach adulthood, it has happened to most of us. Our eyes become red, swollen, sore, and crusty. The likelihood is that you have developed conjunctivitis, an irritation of the conjunctiva, the mucus membrane that covers the front of the eye.
Commonly known as “pink eye”, this condition can be caused by viruses, bacteria, allergies, or irritants. If you develop redness, burning, itching, green or white discharge, or blurred vision, it is important to see your doctor immediately. Since symptoms vary by the cause of the irritation, correct diagnosis is essential to make sure you get the most effective treatment.
Everyday substances like hand sanitizer, lotion, shampoo, or hairspray can irritate your eyes and cause conjunctivitis. When this happens, it can usually be treated without a prescription. Wash the irritating substance from the eye for five minutes, and they should begin to improve. Contact your physician if the condition of your eyes doesn’t improve within four hours. If you suspect the substance is excessively acidic or alkaline, like bleach, flush your eyes with lots of water and call your doctor immediately.
When bacterial infections or viruses cause conjunctivitis, treatment is a little more involved. Depending on whether your pink eye is caused by a sexually-transmitted infection or some other source, you will be prescribed pills, drops, or ointments to clear your condition. The same viruses that cause colds can also irritate and infect your eyes. When this happens, effective treatment should clear the conjunctivitis as your cold symptoms improve. As with a cold, you should wash your hands frequently to prevent the spread of infection. While symptoms persist, wear glasses instead of contacts. Disposable contacts should be discarded, and longer-wear contact must be thoroughly cleaned. Until your eyes are clear, avoid the use of eye makeup, and never share eye makeup. Over-the-counter eye drops can provide relief for conjunctivitis that is caused by irritants or allergies, as well as warm or cool compresses.
If you suspect you’ve contracted conjunctivitis, you feel like something may be in your eye, or you experience any symptoms that affect your vision, it is important to contact an ophthalmologist as quickly as possible. At Alpine Eye Care, our caring professionals can properly diagnose your conjunctivitis and bring the soothing relief you need. For more information about this or to schedule an appointment, call us at 1.877.SEE.2020.