Pink Eye

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All eye problems require careful observation 

Pinkeye is usually known by the redness and swelling of the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane that lines the eyelid and eye surface. When an infection occurs, it disturbs the lining of the eye causing irritation and the lining becomes red and swollen. Pinkeye is very common and without medical treatment, it usually takes about 7-10 days to cure.

Common Causes

Infections caused by viruses or bacteria.

Dry eyes from lack of tears or exposure to wind and sun.

Chemicals, fumes, or smoke (chemical conjunctivitis).

Allergies.

Pinkeye can be spread fairly easily. Since most pinkeye is caused by viruses (sometimes can be bacterial) for which there is usually no medical treatment. Because there are no medical treatment, prevention become important. A dirty hand is the easiest way to become infected. Someone who has pinkeye can spread their infections easily through common items such as washcloths or towels.

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Viral pinkeye is often caused by an retrovirus, which is a common respiratory virus that can also cause a sore throat or upper respiratory infection. The herpes virus can also cause viral pinkeye.

Symptoms of viral pinkeye include:

Redness in the white of the eye.

Swelling of the eyelids.

Itching or burning feeling of the eyelids.

Swollen and tender areas in front of the ears.

A lot of tearing.

Clear or slightly thick, whitish drainage.

Viral pinkeye symptoms usually last 5 to 7 days but may last up to 3 weeks and can become ongoing or chronic.

Pinkeye may be more serious if you:

Have a condition that decreases your body’s ability to fight infection (impaired immune system).

Have vision in only one eye.

Treatment

Appropriate choices for treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis include erythromycin ophthalmic ointment or trimethoprim-polymyxin drops. The dose is 0.5 inch (1.25 cm) of ointment inside the lower lid or 1 to 2 drops four times daily for five to seven days. The dose may be reduced to twice daily if there is improvement in symptoms after a few days. Ointment is preferred over drops for children, those with poor compliance, and those in whom it is difficult to administer eye medications. However, ointments blur vision for 20 minutes after the dose is administered. Fluoroquinolones are the preferred agent in contact lens wearers due to the high incidence of pseudomonas infection; keratitis should be ruled out prior to treatment. Patients with bacterial conjunctivitis usually respond in one to two days with a decrease in discharge, redness, and irritation. Patients who do not respond should go to an ophthalmologist.

For patients with viral conjunctivitis, there is no specific therapy though topical antihistamine/decongestants and/or lubricating agents may provide symptom relief.

The management of allergic conjunctivitis: Dr.Paul usually prescribes claritin.

For patients with noninfectious conjunctivitis, topical lubricants may provide symptom relief and can be used as often as hourly.

Some daycare centers and schools may require that students with conjunctivitis receive 24 hours of topical therapy before returning to school. In principle, only children diagnosed with bacterial conjunctivitis should receive antibiotics; however, if treatment is required for return to school or daycare, an inexpensive and nontoxic topical antibiotic is preferred. Dr.Paul recommends erythromycin ointment.

Topical glucocorticoids have no role in the management of acute conjunctivitis and Dr.Paul will not prescribe topical glucocorticoids for conjunctivitis. So, please do not ask.

woman with blue eyes wrapped in a pink cloth

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