A condition called pink eye is particularly common for children, but anyone can get it. It is most often found in a classroom (of any age) or daycare situation. This problem, which is also called conjunctivitis, is also contagious and will often last up to two weeks.
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the tissue that is on the inside of the eyelid. This tissue is called the conjunctiva, and when it is inflamed, it makes the blood vessels in your eye stand out causing the red appearance.
With conjunctivitis, several symptoms are apt to occur. These symptoms often include:
- Painfulness of the eye
- A sensitivity to bright light
- A swelling or enlargement of the lymph node behind the ear
- A feeling like a foreign object is in the eye
- Redness in one or both eyes
- A discharge in the infected eye that may leave a crust on the eye that prevents it from opening.
The Causes of Conjunctivitis
There are several possible causes of pink eye. The primary ones are bacteria, viruses, or allergies. Other causes may include a splash of a chemical in the eye, or a foreign object in the eye. A baby may have a red eye due to a tear duct that is blocked.
- Allergies – this is probably the most common cause of having red eyes. It is an allergic reaction of your eyes to an allergen such as pollen, dust, dander, etc. It can easily be controlled by using eye drops made for allergies. When allergies are involved, it is not contagious.
- Bacteria – the bacteria from someone who has conjunctivitis is spread to other people. This occurs by sharing personal hygiene items, or by using makeup that has collected the bacteria, or by touching your eyes with hands that are dirty. If not treated, the person is contagious for about 10 days. With treatment, they are contagious for just a few days.
- Virus – the most common virus is the adenovirus, which you get from your nose into your eyes. If you sneeze or cough when you have a cold or an upper respiratory infection and the droplets get into your eyes, you can get the infection in your eyes. When caused by infection it may last up to two weeks. It will often start in one eye and then involve both. You may also get it from the herpes virus.
When infected with conjunctivitis, it is important to stay away from other people and disinfect surfaces you touch. You also should not use contact lenses until it is healed.
When to See a Doctor
If a new baby has conjunctivitis, it is important to take the baby to a doctor. If not treated, it could affect the vision. Bacterial conjunctivitis is treated with an antibiotic, but viral conjunctivitis is left alone because antibiotics will not help.
All of the doctors at the Silver Star Urgent Care clinic are Board-certified. They are able to diagnose and treat pink eye, as well as many other medical problems. All patients, including walk-ins, are seen quickly and treated by medical professionals. In order to help you with scheduling, we stay open from 8:00 am until 8:00 pm seven days a week.