Girl suffering with pink eye.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Are your eyes feeling a little itchy or do they look red and you don’t know the cause?

Conjunctivitis, known as pink eye, is one of the most common eye conditions, affecting about three million people in the United States each year.

Pink eye is inflammation of the thin, clear tissue that covers the white part of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid. The inflammation makes blood vessels in the eye more visible, often leading to a pink or reddish hue in the white part of the eye.

The condition is most commonly caused by a viral infection, but may be caused by a bacterial infection, an allergic reaction or a tear duct that did not open correctly in babies. Pink eye is contagious, but early treatment can help prevent the spread of the condition to others.

Signs and symptoms of pink eye include:

  • Redness, swelling, itchiness and/or a gritty feeling in one or both eyes or inside the eyelids
  • Increased tear production
  • An eye discharge that may cause difficulty opening one or both eyes in the morning due to crusting of the lashes or eyelids

Ways to Prevent the Spread of Pink Eye

Since pink eye is contagious, it is important to practice good hygiene. Here are some helpful tips to prevent the spread of the condition to others:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Use a clean towel and washcloth every day and do not share towels or washcloths with others.
  • Change your pillowcase frequently.
  • Do not touch your eyes with your hands.
  • Throw away your eye cosmetics if you have pink eye.
  • Do not share eye cosmetics or personal eye care items with others.
  • Wash your glasses.

When to See a Doctor

Understanding the underlying cause of pink eye can help determine whether treatment is needed. In most cases, pink eye symptoms are mild and will resolve on their own without a prescription. Try using cold packs to help control the inflammation and artificial tears (over-the-counter eye drops) for dryness. If you wear contact lenses, make sure to stop using them as soon as you notice symptoms and throw away that pair.

Seek medical care if you experience:

  • Intense redness in one or both eyes
  • Severe or moderate pain in one or both eyes
  • A feeling like something is stuck in one or both of your eyes
  • Vision problems that do no clear up when discharge is removed from the eye (this may include blurred vision or sensitivity to light)
  • Symptoms that worsen or persist after you suspect pink eye
  • Signs of pink eye and have a weakened immune system due to another medical condition

If you need medical advice for conditions, like pink eye, and want to stay in the comfort of your home or office, log on to Norman Regional Virtual Care or download the app in the App Store or Google Play to visit with a board certified provider today. It’s quick, convenient and only costs $45 for each visit. Learn more about Norman Regional Virtual Care at NormanRegional.com/VirtualCare.