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Pink Eye

What is pink eye and what should I know about the eye condition?

Learning about eye diseases is an important topic especially for individuals dealing with a known vision issue. Education and awareness of common eye illnesses should be a part of everyone’s agenda regardless of their present eye health.

Pink eye is the common name for the medical condition known as conjunctivitis. The disease gets its name from the reaction of the irritation of the blood vessels (vessels enlarge) in the eye developing the red or pink coloration of the white areas of the eye. The disease can cause the following reactions to the lining of the eyelid’s protective membrane (called the conjunctiva) and the exposed white coloration of each eyeball:

1. Swelling
2. Itching
3. Burning
4. Discharge (white, yellow or green in color)
5. Redness

Pink eye has four basic causes:

1. A bacterial or viral infection
2. Different types of allergies
3. Any substance causing irritation to the eyes
4. Different types of eye products such as contact lens products, eye drops and eye ointments

Although the National Eye Institute states that infectious pink eye usually does not cause vision damage and usually heals without medical treatment, the institute also mentions the information about a bacterial form of pink eye, which requires a prescription using an antibiotic eye ointment.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) discusses three types of pink eye on their website). The three types are viral, bacterial and allergic. Simple irritants can cause Allergic pink eye items such as chemical fumes or smoke. Therefore, the question becomes, when do I need to seek treatment or allow the condition to heal on its own? Knowing the signs of viral and bacterial pink eye determines the need for medical help. The CDC lists the following symptoms of bacterial pink eye and makes the recommendation to seek medical treatment when experiencing:

1. Moderate to severe pain in one or both eyes
2. Blurred vision
3. Intense redness of the eyes
4. Increased sensitivity to light
5. Symptoms continue to get worse
6. White, yellow or green discharge
7. Person has a known weakened immune system

The CDC website provides a detailed podcast containing information discussing when an individual with pink eye should seek medical help. The podcast is approximately four minutes long.

Another important aspect of pink eye is its prevention. Allergic pink eye is not contagious but viral and bacterial forms are spreadable from person to person. The CDC website lists the steps for the prevention and spread of Pink eye. The steps for prevention are as follows:

1. Avoid touching and rubbing of the eyes
2. Wash hands frequently, with soap and warm water or use an alcohol base hand wash
3. Clean and treat any crust or discharge from the eyes several times a day
4. Clean hands thoroughly after applying eye drops or ointments
5. Wash in detergent and hot water any affected pillowcases, towels, washcloths or other materials, which make contact with the eyes. Make sure to throw away any items used to clean the eyes.
6. Clean glasses or other items used around the eyes
7. Do not share any form of make-up used on face or eyes with others
8. Do not use swimming pools
9. Do not reuse an eyedropper used around an infected eye without cleaning first.

Following these steps will greatly decrease the chances of spreading pink eye to others.

Finally, both organizations listed in this article provide extra information in the form of pamphlets and brochures offering information helpful in making the decision about seeking medical treatment. The organizations also provide contact methods in case more information or other questions arise. Every individual regardless of eye health should become educated and informed about common eye illnesses. Knowing what to do, what symptoms to be aware of and proper care, treatment, and the correct course of action are important issues to consider for maintaining good eye health.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Dean Ingalls. All rights reserved.
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