Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is an inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane (conjunctiva) that lines the eyelid and part of eyeball. The cause of pink eye is commonly a bacterial or viral infection. Though the inflammation of pink eye makes it an irritating condition, it rarely affects eye sight. But because pink eye can be contagious, it should be diagnosed and treated early. This is especially important for preschool-age children, who commonly develop both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis.

Signs and symptoms of pink eye

The most common signs and symptoms of pink eye include:

  • Redness in one or both eyes.
  • Itching.
  • Blurred vision and sensitivity to light.
  • A gritty feeling in one or both eyes.
  • Discharge in one or both eyes that forms a crust during the night.
  • Tearing.

Causes of pink eye

The cause of pink eye can be viral, bacterial or rarely fungal infection. This infection can be acquired by

  • From a patient of pink eye.
  • Swimming in infected water.
  • As one of the symptom of systemic flu.
  • After an injury into the eye in the form of chemical injury, trauma etc.

Someone with conjunctivitis may be contagious for seven to 14 days after signs and symptoms first appear. So the family members and people in contact with the patient should be careful avoid touching their eyes to prevent spread of infection.

The treatment for conjunctivitis is

  • Antibacterial eye drop/eye ointment depending on severity of disease.
  • Antibacterial eye ointment is preferred in small children as they are uncooperative.
  • Lubricating eye drops to take care of irritation.
  • In case of viral conjunctivitis, anti-inflammatory eye drops and lubricating eye drops are prescribed. Viral eye flu takes its own course, but the eye drops are prescribed to decrease the symptoms.
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Self care that can be done at home is

  • Follow your doctor’s prescription thoroughly.
  • Always wear dark glasses when you go out of the house.
  • Clean the eye with sterile tissue or cotton boiled in water for 10 minutes.
  • Change your pillowcase often.
  • After instilling eye drops in the patient’s eyes, always wash hands.
  • Keep children away from the patient to prevent them getting infected.

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