Spring is here and the warmer temperature along with the lingering winter ills creates the perfect environment for conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pink eye. This condition is a result of inflammation of the membrane (conjunctiva) that covers the white of the eye and the inner portion of the upper and lower eyelids.
Conjunctivitis has three very different causes and eye doctors need to be able to see you in person to determine which is the underlying problem. Allergic conjunctivitis often occurs in the spring or fall due to high pollen counts and affects both eyes with severe itching, mild redness and a watery discharge. Bacterial conjunctivitis usually impacts only one eye, has a thicker, mucous-like discharge and resolves in about one week with proper treatment. Viral conjunctivitis tends to be the most intrusive with both eyes becoming red, swollen even involving the lids, along with severe tearing and light sensitivity. Unfortunately, like the common cold, this type can go on for 2 or 3 weeks and is quite contagious. If you or someone in your home has viral conjunctivitis, you must be extremely cautious as the disease can live on surfaces for several days. Make sure to discard any tissues immediately and limit contact with family and friends, especially children. Never share towels or pillows with the infected person and make sure they are washing their hands constantly. Disinfect major surfaces regularly including items like computer keyboards, phones, remotes, etc. Once the infection is gone, be sure to wash all the sheets and towels they’ve used in hot water to avoid infecting others in the home.
If you are experiencing any of these pink eye symptoms, please make an appointment with your eye doctor at Columbus Ophthalmology Associates so we can properly diagnose the problem and write you the correct prescription for drops or antibiotics. To get some relief from the itching and redness, we recommend soaking a washcloth in ice cold or warm water (whatever one feels better to you) to create a compress every hour. Be sure to use a fresh washcloth to avoid reinfection.