What is Pink Eye?

Pink eye is simply the inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is a thin, transparent layer that covers the white part of your eyes (Sclera) and also the inside of your eye lids. The conjunctiva though transparent has blood vessels present. When the conjunctiva gets inflamed, there is a dilation of blood vessels which gives the eyes its pink or red look. So, what actually causes the inflammation? There are 3 main causes of inflammation.

Causes of Pink Eye?

1)      Viral Conjunctivitis – The most common form of pink eye and also happens to be the most contagious. Easily spreads through the air when someone coughs or sneezes. Avoid touching or being in close proximity with your loved ones if either of you has viral conjunctivitis.

Viral conjunctivitis does not need any form of anti-biotics unless it is so severe that there is a secondary bacterial infection which is really rare. Luckily, viral conjunctivitis is self-limiting and it resolves on its own in several days.

2)      Bacterial Conjunctivitis -  Not as common but symptoms are more severe and not as easily treatable as viral conjunctivitis. Infected eyes also look worse because of the pus discharge and sometimes hardening of the pus can cause the eyelids to be forced shut upon waking up. In severe case, the eyelids can swell up.

Bacterial conjunctivitis can easily be treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointments. Typical anti-bacterial treatments would last for 1-2 weeks.

3)      Allergic Conjunctivitis -  usually caused by triggers like pollen, dust mites or even mold spores. It has similar symptoms like viral conjunctivitis but accompanied with excessive itchiness. Allergies manifest when our immune systems perceives a particular trigger as a threat and releases histamines. This then causes inflammation and itchiness.

The most common form of treatment for allergic conjunctivitis is anti-histamine eye drops. An important step in preventing occurrences of allergic conjunctivitis is to pro-actively guard your eyes from triggers that cause the allergic reaction.

Whatever form of conjunctivitis it may be, can be easily treated. There is no need for panic. As long as proper hygiene is practised and the doctor’s prescription is adhered to, conjunctivitis can be easily treated.

Stay Healthy and Stay Happy!