Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pink Eye

Pink eye is a common infection of the surface skin, or conjunctiva, of the eye. It is similar to a “cold” of the eye, and is known as acute conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is just a medical term that means inflammation of the conjunctiva. Many things can cause conjunctivitis, most commonly an allergy or infection. Pink eye is a form of acute conjunctivitis that is usually caused by a virus.

It is very contagious and is spread by direct contact. For example, a person who has pink eye who has rubbed his eyes and used that hand to open a door could end up infecting someone else who touches that door. This is why it is encouraged that people who are diagnosed with pink eye should stay home until the infection has resolved.

Pink eye is associated with characteristic symptoms: redness, swelling, itching, burning, and crusting of the eyelashes when waking up from sleep. There may be discharge from the eye, which is typically clear. A lot of yellow discharge is a sign of bacterial infection. The eye may be watery and sensitive to light.

The degree of symptoms varies from minimal redness and irritation to severe swelling, discharge, and decreased vision. Usually one eye is involved before the other, and within days both are affected. In adults, involvement of only one eye is more common since we tend to avoid spreading it to the other side. The conjunctivitis may be preceded by an upper respiratory infection with fever, congestion, and swollen nodes. Fortunately, the common viral form of pink eye is self-limited, lasting one to two weeks. In some cases, however, small white spots develop on the cornea and may cause decreased vision, which can last for months.

Treatment of viral pink eye is mainly supportive and is aimed at relieving the symptoms. Over-the-counter antihistamine drops such as Naphcon A, Vasocon A, and Opcon, help reduce the itching and redness. Cold compresses reduce the swelling and soothe the eye. Warm compresses in the morning are used to remove the crusting from the lashes. In children, contact lens wearers, and anyone with corneal involvement, an antibiotic drop or ointment should be used to prevent a bacterial superinfection.

If there are signs of a bacterial conjunctivitis, such as colored discharge, severe inflammation, or no improvement with treatment, antibiotics must be used. For borderline cases a culture may be helpful. If corneal opacities are present, your eye doctor may recommend a course of steroid eye drops. Contact lenses must not be worn until the infection is completely resolved. In addition, contact precautions minimize the chance of spreading the infection to the other eye and to other people (ie, hand washing, no eye rubbing, no sharing of face towels or pillow cases, etc.).

Consultant: Dr. Neil Friedman.


Anonymous said...

I was reading at just hours ago about this topic and how it is killing third world countries via long epidemics.


Shah said...

Thats disease can be infect other people.. so be careful..
If u get please go to doctor immediately..

Sharef said...

how harmful can the white spots be? how to lose them?

I wear hard contacts since 1997 due to Keratoconus, recently i got a pink eye after which i had to use a glasses instead of contacts

my doctor says that there are white spots after the my pink eye, however I did not notice any change in my vision.

He told me not to wear contacts till the spots are gone and I'm wearing glasses for two months now.

glasses are not perfect for me, however they help me to a good degree.

When can I wear my hard contacts back?

eye diseases said...

Pinkeye occurs due to viral or bacterial infection. Allergic pinkeye develops due to pollens, animal shedding and certain cosmetic products. Viral pinkeye is very much transmittable. Allergic or chemical pink eye is non-contagious. There are many symptoms of pinkeye like reddishness on eyes, inflamed eyelids, excessive tear production, burning sensation, stuck eyelids, irritation etc.