Conjunctivitis or pink eye is an infection or inflammation of the membrane lining the eyelid and part of the eyeball as well. The small blood vessels in the membrane, which is transparent, become more evident, and this gives a red or pink cast to the whites of they eyes.
Types of Conjunctivitis
Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis, which may produce a thick, yellow-green discharge, can develop in one or both eyes. Both types may be related to a respiratory infection, including a sore throat or the common cold. They are also very contagious, although children are more susceptible to the bacterial form than adults.
Allergic conjunctivitis, which affects both eyes, is a reaction to pollen or some other allergy-causing substance. As a response, the body produces immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody. This stimulates special cells in the lining of the eyes and airways to release histamines and other inflammatory substances, resulting in a number of allergic reactions. Those who have this condition may experience intense inflammation, tearing, and itching of the eyes, along with watery nasal discharge and sneezing. This form of pink eye is usually controlled by using eye drops for allergy, either prescribed or over-the-counter.
An irritation from a foreign object in the eye or a chemical splash is associated with pink eye as well. At times, cleaning the eye to resolve the problem causes redness and irritation, such as mucous discharge and watery eyes, but the symptoms usually disappear in about 24 hours.
While conjunctivitis is difficult to avoid, there are certain steps you can take you reduce the possibility of acquiring it or passing or it on to someone else. They include the following:
- Do not share towels or washcloths with others.
- Wash your hands often, and keep them away from your eyes.
- If you know that you will be exposed to irritating chemicals, perhaps when swimming or on the job, wear protective goggles.
- Avoid swimming in stagnant lakes or ponds, or non-chlorinated pools.
- Never use any eye medication that was prescribed for some someone else.
Pink eye (conjunctivitis) – MayoClinic.com.” Mayo Clinic medical information and tools for healthy living – MayoClinic.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 July 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pink-eye/DS00258.
“Pink eye (conjunctivitis): Causes – MayoClinic.com.” Mayo Clinic medical information and tools for healthy living – MayoClinic.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 July 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pink-eye/DS00258/DSECTION=causes.
“Pink Eye.” Welcome :: Randolph-Macon College. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 July 2010. http://www.rmc.edu/Offices/student-health/Ailments/Pink%20Eye.aspx.