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Acute Conjunctivitis (aka: Pink Eye)

Acute Conjunctivitis is when the membrane (clear coating) that covers the whites of your eye has some redness and soreness.

It's commonly known as "pink eye". It is highly contagious and can infect anyone, but mostly hits children. The reason it infects children the most is because they don't usually know until its too late, combine that with the fact they do not wash their hands as much, and tend to rub their eyes when it hurts more than adults do.

What causes pink eye?

Usually tears help protect our eyes from conjunctivitis, they wash away and kill bacteria with enzymes and antibodies. When tears fail the causes are specifically:

  • Allergies, chemical exposure, and certain systemic (throughout the body) diseases are the most common cause.
  • Although uncommon the bacterial causes include (but are not limited to): bacteria, fungi, and sometimes parasites.
  • People that wear extended-wear contact lenses are highly susceptible to pink eye.

What are the symptoms of pink eye? (may have one or more of these symptoms)

  • Blurred Vision
  • Crusts that form on the eyelid overnight
  • Eye pain
  • Gritty feeling in the eyes
  • Increased tearing
  • Itchy and redness in the eyes
  • Light Sensitivity

How do you prevent pink eye?

Good hygiene can be helpful in avoiding pink eye

  • Washing hands often
  • Do not rub your eyes
  • Don't share towels, cosmetics and other eye things
  • Wash cosmetics off daily
  • Change pillowcases often
  • Clean and change long-wear contacts often

What are some options for treatment?

Treatment depends on what caused the breakout.

  • Allergy based pink eye can be treated with your usual allergy medicines, can go away when the allergen that caused it is removed.
  • Bacterial pink eye can be taken care of with a course of eye drop antibiotics
  • Viral pink eye usually goes away on its own

No matter what version of pink eye you have, a wet cloth (cool or wet depends on what feels good for you personally) on your closed eye can sooth any discomfort you may be feeling. Just do not reuse the cloth more than once. Wash or throw it away after each use.

When should you seek medical advice?

If your symptoms occur for longer than 3-4 days.

Potential Complications

Generally with treatment pink eye is irritating but harmless. The biggest concern you should have is re-infection within school or household. To prevent passing it around or re-infecting everyone use the prevention measures listed above. Parents don't let your children rub their eyes. Sometimes an eye cover or patch may help for serious infections.

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