Pink Eye is a highly contagious condition that may cause itching, tearing, crusting, and burning. It may also cause the eyes to be light sensitive and there may be a discharge. Pink Eye is also called Conjunctivitis because it is the infection or inflammation of the membrane covering part of the eyeball and the eyelid than causes the symptoms. The membrane is called the conjunctiva. This inflammation causes the blood vessels to become more prominent, giving the eye the pink, or red appearance.
Although the condition does not, in itself, affect the vision, because of its contagious nature, it should be diagnosed and treated, immediately. Conjunctivitis may continue to be contagious as long as there are noticeable symptoms.
Conjunctivitis is caused by an allergic reaction, or by a bacterial or viral infection. In babies it may also be caused by an imperfect tear duct. It may also be associated with extended-wear contact lenses. If Pink Eye goes untreated, there could be inflammation to the cornea that can affect the vision.
Viral Conjunctivitis has no treatment and will merely run its course in time. It should be diagnosed nevertheless, in order to rule out other conditions.
Bacterial Conjunctivitis is treated with antibiotic drops or ointments and the symptoms usually begin to disappear withing a few days. Allergic Conjunctivitis is treated with a variety of allergy medications that are quite effective. Efforts should be made to ascertain the allergen and avoid it. Contact lens wearers should discontinue using the lenses until the condition is completely cleared.
To diagnose Conjunctivitis requires and eye exam and often the testing of the eye’s secretions.
The best ways to avoid contracting Conjunctivitis is to avoid those infected, and practice good hygiene. As this is a condition that spreads rapidly among children, they should be taught to wash their hands often and never to touch their eyes. Children with Pink Eye should be kept home until the condition is cured.