You may have heard of pink eye before. You may even know it as conjunctivitis. But if you’ve ever suffered with the condition, you’ll know just how irritating it can be.
Conjunctivitis is the term used to describe the inflammation of the thin film that covers the front of the white of your eye, and the inside of the eyelid.
Everyone is susceptible to the condition, but it’s more common in children. This means that parents, teachers, and nursery workers are also at a higher risk of contracting conjunctivitis because it is highly contagious and these people spend a lot of time around children.
If you have conjunctivitis – or pink eye – you’ll notice that one or both eyes become pink or red and itchy. Your eye may also water, burn, be more sensitive to light, or have a green or yellow discharge that builds up in the corner of the eye. You may also find that when you wake up in the morning your eyelids are stuck together. The symptoms depend on the type of conjunctivitis you’re suffering with.
There are three types of conjunctivitis; viral, bacterial, and allergic. Both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are highly contagious and are the most common types that we see here at Eye Emporium.
Viral conjunctivitis is spread by coughing and sneezing, much like a cold is. Bacterial conjunctivitis is spread by touching infected hands or objects that have touched other peoples’ eyes. Allergic conjunctivitis – as the name suggests – is an allergic reaction to something in the environment and this form of the condition is not contagious.
As scary as it sounds, don’t panic. Although it can be very uncomfortable, conjunctivitis is relatively easy to treat, so make sure you visit your optician if you notice any of the related symptoms. In most cases, eye drops or ointment will relieve symptoms and your eyes will be back to normal within a week.
However, it can be more difficult to judge which type of conjunctivitis you have, so it’s very important that you seek advice from your optician before you treat the problem. They will be able to examine your eye and provide you with the most appropriate treatment and offer you advice on how to ensure you don’t get the condition again.
At Eye Emporium, we see lots of parents who have conjunctivitis as a result of their child picking it up at school. There are several tips that we give them to avoid contracting conjunctivitis in the future, and we want to share these tips with you, too.
1) Always cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze to avoid spreading the germs that cause viral conjunctivitis.
2) Wash your hands regularly, and if you’ve been in contact with anyone you know is suffering with a cold, make sure you wash your hands before touching your eyes or face.
3) Never share make-up or make-up brushes with others. This can be the fastest way to spread bacteria to your eyes!
4) Don’t share washcloths, towels or tissues with other people.
5) Keep a hand sanitiser handy for when you’re out and about or on public transport.
6) If you wear contact lenses, always wash your hands thoroughly before inserting or removing them.
7) NEVER share contact lenses or coloured contact lenses with anyone.
With the best will in the world, you still may contract conjunctivitis at some point in your life. If you do, ensure that you speak to a trusted optician for advice to stop the condition becoming any worse.
For more advice, or if you’re concerned that you may have conjunctivitis or pink eye, please call the friendly team at Eye Emporium on 0800 020 9202. We’d be delighted to help.