I think I have pink eye....now what?!
This is probably one of the most common patient questions that we receive at Optique. The technical name for pink eye in conjunctivitis meaning an inflammation of the clear skin-like covering of the eyeball. There are technically three different types of conjunctivitis, allergic, viral and bacterial, and all three of these present in different ways requiring different treatments. When you wake up with a red and irritated eye, here are a few tips about what may be going on.
Welcome to Austin.....welcome to allergies!
The two most distinct feelings people will feel with a possible conjunctivitis are either itching or pain. If the main feeling of the eye is itching, the likely cause of the inflammation is allergies. Just as allergies affect other parts of your body, when exposed to an allergen, the tissues of your eye release a substance called histamine that cause the classic itching and swelling of allergies. The itching can be very severe, and it can also be accompanied by tearing and mild to moderate swelling of the eyelids. These allergy symptoms can be a chronic problem, or they can just be seasonal, but either way, the treatment is that same. The typical treatment for allergic conjunctivitis is medication designed to stop the itching and reduce the inflammation. These are typically taken for several weeks at a time.
I think my eye is infected!
When someone has a red eye, one of the first thoughts is typically that the eye is infected. There are two general types of eye infection that can lead to conjunctivitis. By far the most common is a viral conjunctivitis. This is the classic "pink eye" that presents with swollen weeping and painful eyes. It is also possible to have other symptoms such as watery discharge, light sensitivity and some blurry vision. Viral conjunctivitis is a very contagious condition, so it is very important to get evaluated in order to see if time away from work or school is needed. One good thing about this type of eye infection is that it is generally self-limiting meaning that it will typically go away on its own in one to two weeks.
The last type of eye infection is a true bacterial conjunctivitis. This type of infection will typically present with a very red and painful eye. With a bacterial infection, it is very common for a person to have a discharge from the eye throughout the day even to the point where the eye cannot open. Although also generally self limiting, these types of infections benefit from the use of antibiotics to speed up healing.
Always best to have it checked out
If you are ever concerned about a possible eye infection, it is always important to have it properly evaluated to determine the likely cause and the most effective treatment. Please let us help you out, so you can be back to normal and feeling you best! - Dr. Z