Also known as conjunctivitis, pink eye is an infection that affects the covering of the eyeball and inside of the eyelid. It can be a very painful and disrupting infection that needs to be taken care of immediately.
Symptoms of Pink Eye
If pink eye is present, you will notice redness in the white of the eye as well as itchiness. There will also be a discharge, either clear or with a yellow-white colouring.
Pink eye can present as either a viral or bacterial infection but can also be caused by allergies. The above symptoms apply no matter the cause, with differences in the nature of the discharge as well as additional symptoms.
- If caused by an allergic reaction, the discharge will be clear and there may be some swelling present around the eye.
- Viral pink eye also causes a clear discharge but may also be paired with a sore throat.
- Pink eye caused by a bacterial infection causes a yellow-white discharge.
How Pink Eye Spreads
Pink eye spreads very easily by direct contact, indirect contact or droplet contact.
- Direct contact occurs when the a person directly touches the discharge of the infected person.
- Indirect contact occurs when a person simply touches a object that has been in contact with the discharge.
- Droplet contact involves coming into contact with the infection through coughing and sneezing.
If you or your child has been diagnosed with pink eye, it is important to immediately wipe as many items touched with a disinfecting cleaner.
Also be sure to wash your hands after touching or cleaning the eye and don’t share towels, facecloths or pillows until the infection has cleared.
Seeing a Doctor for Diagnosis
As soon as you suspect your or your child has pink eye, it is imperative that you see your family doctor right away. He or she will need to determine if the cause of the pink eye is viral or bacterial before beginning treatment.
If the pink eye is viral, then you or your child can return to work/child-care right away. However, if the infection is bacterial, you must receive treatment for at least 24 hours before returning to ensure the infection is cleared (not necessarily the symptoms) and will not spread.
If, after treatment, the symptoms do not subside or worsen, you need to revisit your doctor to rule out other causes.
Treatment for Pink Eye
For pink eye caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics are prescribed in the form of eye drops or ointments. Again, the medication must be used for at least 24 hours before returning to work or child-care.
Viral pink eye, unfortunately, cannot be treated through prescription medication. The only course of action is to treat the symptoms until the virus clears. Warm compresses can help alleviate the discomfort of the eye while over-the-counter antihistamines can reduce the itchiness. You can also treat the sore throat with over-the-counter medications.
Please be advised that if you are a user of essential oils to help treat ailments, it is not recommended that oils of any kind be used on our around the eye. You may find some alleviation in diffusing the oils or rubbing an oil/carrier oil mix onto the chest or back.
Pink Eye Sucks
Now that we’ve covered all the straightforward details of pink eye, I have a story to share.
A few years I contracted pink eye from a little guy I worked with. Immediately upon discovering the infection, I had to take time off work and clean all my toys and supplies upon my return (I was an Autism Support Worker).
That wasn’t the worst of it. I have poor vision and more often than not wear contacts when out and about. Unfortunately, if you contract pink eye, you need to throw your contacts and case in the garbage to prevent re-infection.
Which was totally fine since I had a few spare pairs. What was not fine was the only pair of glasses I owned were broken. I typically only wore them before bed and as soon as I woke up, so I never felt the need to have them repaired or replaced.
But I had to go back to work. So away I went with wire-framed glasses held together with twist-ties and hot glue. I may not have felt the coolest that day, but ever since I have made sure that I have in my possession a functioning pair of glasses with no ridiculous DIY fixes.
So, yeah, pink eye sucks.