Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye is an infection or inflammation of the membrane (conjunctiva) that lines the eye lids. This membrane is exposed to various irritants, including bacteria, and tears help to protect it by washing them away. Tears also contain certain antibodies and enzymes that aid in killing bacteria.
Note that cool compresses may help relieve allergic conjunctivitis, and it is usually responsive traditional allergy treatment as well. Bacterial conjunctivitis is often treated with medication in the form of eye drops, and, as a rule, viral conjunctivitis will clear up when the patient’s overall condition improves.
Treating Bacterial Conjunctivitis
If you have this problem, your eye doctor will probably prescribe antibiotic eye drops and after several days, the infection should clear up. Also, antibiotic ointment may be prescribed when treating this condition in infants and small children. While it is less difficult to administer, the ointment may cause blurred vision for as long as 20 minutes after it is applied. With either method, you can anticipate that the signs and symptoms related to the pink eye will improve in just a few days. When this happens, continue to use the medication until the prescription expires so that the infection will not reoccur.
Treating Allergic Conjunctivitis
If your eye irritation is caused by an allergic reaction, your physician may prescribe the eye drops that seem best suited to your situation. There are many options-including decongestants, antihistamines, steroids, cell stabilizers, and anti-inflammatory drops-to be used in conjunction with any other allergy medication you may be taking.
Here are some additional precautions you should take when treating pink eye:
- Apply a warm compress 3 or 4 times daily for 10 to 15 minutes to the affected area.
- Wash your hands frequently, and avoid rubbing your eyes.
- Refrain from using contact lenses until the inflammation subsides.
- Change your pillow case often, and use a separate towel and washcloth for the eye being treated.
- Do not use eye make-up while your eye is irritated, and discard any that has been contaminated by the disease.
“Conjunctivitis,” MedlinePlus:U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 July 2010. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001010.htm>
Mayo Clinic staff, “Pink eye (conjunctivitis – Treatments and drugs,” MayoClinic.com. July 25, 2010. Web. 25 July 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pink-eye/DS00258/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs>
“Facts About Conjunctivitis – “Pink Eye,” University of Connecticut Student Health Services. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 July 2010. http://www.shs.uconn.edu/docs/educational_handouts/conjunctivitis.pdf>