Conjunctivitis, or better known as ‘pink eye’, is one of the common form of eye irritation. It is actually an inflammation of the white of the eye and eyelid lining, or, in medical terms, inflammation of the conjunctiva, the transparent membrane lining between the inner eyelids and the globe of the eye. When the eye becomes irritated or infected, the tiny blood vessels therein dilate and turn red.
Symptoms of Conjunctivitis or ‘Pink Eye’
- redness in the eye
- itchy feeling in the eye
- a burning sensation
- sensitivity to light
- grittiness sensation
- pain in the eye
- watering of the eyes
- Occasionally a sticky discharge causing eyelashes and eyelids to become stuck together; especially while asleep.
- Eyes seem to be filled with sand. But this, without redness of eye, can be another eye problems with similar symptoms, such as allergies, irritation from chemicals (e.g. chlorine in swimming pools), and exposure to cigarette smoke and smog, or even a pressure inconsistency inside the eye.
Major causes of Conjunctivitis:
- Tiny foreign substance in the eye; e.g. pollen or house dust.
- Frequent conjunctivitis or eye irritation can be due to allergies. Usually conjunctivitis allergies are related to certain food. Changing the food habits can show a difference. Conjunctivitis from allergies cause puffy eyelids and leave the eyes red, with a gritty feeling. Usually no discharge is made.
- Bacterial, usually due to hand-to-eye contact, and viral infections associated with a cold, sore throat, cold sore or measles. This type of conjunctivitis is contagious and care should be taken to isolate the patient; else is can create epidemic. Bacterial conjunctivitis also results in a yellowish discharge that becomes crusty during sleep. These infections should clear up within 3-4 days of following general remedial steps as listed below.
- Overuse of non-prescription eyedrops for soothing strained eyes can be one of the triggers of conjunctivitis. Some over-the-counter eyedrops contain decongestants that help shrink swollen blood vessels in the eyes. Allergic reaction to these ingredients can trigger conjunctivitis.
- Allergic rhinitis, can be seasonal (hay fever), due to pollen, or year-round, due to house dust, molds or pets. Having itchy, watery eyes, and stringy (clear, not crusty) pus are common symptoms. The eyelids are often swollen. In this case, use an antihistamine and a cool compress to relieve the itching.
- Using contact lens could also initiate infection by trapping particles in the eye. Prolonged, all-day use of the lenses also canbe causing irritation. Improper storage procedures and unclean lenses can be the culprit. Some people are alergic to lense cleaning solutions containing Thiomersal and other such chemicals.
- Some STD (sexually transmitted diseases) had been found to cause conjunctivitis.
- Inside of eyelids may develop bumps which cause irritation and the eyes will become bloodshot. There may be a feeling that there is a foreign body in your eye.
- Allergic cosmetics, mascara etc.
- Physical injury to the eye.
Home Remedies to cure Conjunctivitis:
Mild cases of conjunctivitis do not need a treatment and should go away in couple of days.
However, it generally is accompanied with irritations and a remedy is needed in most cases. Consider the following:
- Conjunctivitis is highly contagious, so don’t share towels, pillows, or washcloths with someone else.
- Wear large dark glasses to prevent infection to others.
- Keep your pillowcase clean and change it frequently.
- If you suspect your previous eyedrop as the cause, ask your physician to prescribe an alternative e.g. ‘artificial tears’.
- Wash your eye with clean room temperature water; 5 to 10 times a day. Many patients have reported quick releif with this.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after touching your eyes, preferably with antibacterial soap.
- Keep your fingers out of your eyes!
- If you normally wear contact lenses, switching to glasses will help the infection clear up faster. The lenses hold the germs in the eye and are also irritating to the eye.
- Discard the makeup you were using when you got conjunctivitis It is probably contaminated and is an easy way to spread it to your other eye.
- Look for ‘Berberine’ as an ingredient in herbal or commercial eyewashes. It is antibacterial and is quite effective against both staph and strep infections, two major causes of conjunctivitis.
- Sunlight irritates pink eye. Wear sunglasses if you go out in bright sunlight.
- If the conjunctivitis comes at the same time as a cold sore, consult a doctor to make sure the herpes virus has not infected your eye.
- The best way to treat conjunctivitis is to keep the eye as clean as possible and wash the infection away using one of the commercial eyewash solutions.
- Give warm compress your eyes. Tempetarure kills the germs associated with conjunctivitis. Warm compress may feel uncomfortable though.
See a doctor immediately if your problem continues for three or four days with little improvement, if you have severe pain or blurred vision, and under severe discharge conditions. Also you must see a doctor if the redness is due to an eye injury.