Pink Eye and Conjunctivitis
Most individuals associate pink eye with the bacterial infection often seen in children. While it’s true that pink eye is common in children, Pink Eye (better known as Conjunctivitis) is simply a term that describes irritated eye symptoms caused by the inflammation of the outer eye, and not necessarily the underlying cause of said irritation.
Causes of Pink Eye
While pink eye is always associated with red, inflamed eyes, there are multiples ways in which the eyes can experience this type of discomfort.
- Bacterial: Bacterial conjunctivitis is the most common type of conjunctivitis experienced by children, and is what most associate with “traditional” pink eye. Bacterial conjunctivitis usually can be prevented by practicing proper hygiene and avoiding contact with your eyes. Bacterial conjunctivitis typically will relieve itself, but can be treated with antibiotics in severe cases, and can be relieved with eye drops.
- Viral: Viral pink eye is similar to bacterial pink eye, but is caused by a virus instead of bacteria. Viral pink eye can’t treated with antibiotics, but will typically go away within a short period of time.
- Allergies: Most people who suffer from spring eye allergies are actually suffering from allergic conjunctivitis. Allergens cause the eye’s outer layers to become inflamed and irritated, which can result in extensive irritation. Allergy related pink eye can’t be cured with antibiotics, but can be treated with antihistamine eye drops.
- Chemical: Chemical conjunctivitis results when a contaminant or toxic material enters the eye. The resulting chemicals cause heavy irritation, resulting in itching and irritation. If you get any chemicals or contaminants in your eye, it’s important to rinse your eyes with water as soon as possible to make sure damage doesn’t occur.
Pink Eye Prevention
Overall, most pink eye and conjunctivitis can be prevented through proper hygiene, avoiding eye contact, and practicing safety. For effective pink-eye treatment, over the counter eye drops have been proven to relieve much of the irritating symptoms associated with pink eye, and in the case of allergic pink eye, may prevent symptoms altogether. Aside from eye drops, applying occasional warm compresses may help accelerate recovery and relieve symptoms.