Pink eye and red eye are common eye conditions and have various causes ranging from infections, allergies, irritantants, and styes.
Mild cases of pink or red eyes get better on their own, but moderate or severe cases need further attention. If any of the following symptoms are present, it is highly recommended to have it assessed by an optometrist: very red eye, decrease in vision, painful eye, sensitivity to light, or any discharge from the eye. Next we will go over some of the most common causes of pink or red eyes.
Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is a common eye disease which shows up as swelling and redness in the white of the eye. This can be caused by viral or bacterial infection, some of which can be very contagious. In more severe cases, patients may experience light sensitivity, decrease in vision, and pain in the eye. Viral conjunctivitis is more likely to have a clear watery discharge.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is more likely to have a thicker discharge with yellow or green coloring. Over the course of the day, patients may develop a crust along the eyelids or eyelashes. Patients may wake up and find it hard to open the affected eye due to mucus buildup overnight.
For treatment, it is important to increase patient comfort, treat the infection with prescription medication, and prevent the spread of infection. It is recommended patients wash their hands regularly and avoid touching their eyes. If discharge is present, patients may remove it with a wet washcloth, washing hands before and after the cleaning process.
It is also recommended to frequently wash personal towel and sheets and avoid sharing these items with others. It is important to note that newborn babies are at higher risk for conjunctivitis, it is recommended extra precautions are taken to limit contact with them.
If a patient has had a viral or bacterial conjunctivitis, it is important to disinfect glasses, glasses case, and contact lens case. Throw away any soft contact lenses and contact lens solutions that were used during the infection. It is also recommended patients throw away any eye make up, makeup brushes, or sponges that were used during the infection.
Conjunctivitis can also be caused by allergens such as pollen, pet dander, and mold. This is called allergic conjunctivitis and it usually affects both eyes equally. Itchiness is the most common symptom in allergic conjunctivitis.
It is recommended patients avoid the origin of the allergy if possible. Rubbing the eyes may increase the amount of inflammation and swelling present. Instead, it is recommended patients use moisturizing eye drops or saline eye wash to decrease the amount of allergen present in the eyes. In moderate or severe cases, patients may need antihistamine eye drops to reduce the itchiness and swelling of the eyes.
Irritants of the eye may also cause red eyes. The most common irritants are dust, smoke, eye makeup and chlorine in swimming pools. Treatment includes avoiding contact with the irritants and using moisturizing eye drops for ocular comfort.
Overwear of contact lenses and using expired contact lens solution may also contribute to irritated eyes. It is recommended patients follow the proper replacement schedule for their contact lenses and replace expired solutions regularly.
Small bumps or styes along the eyelid are known as chalazion. They can appear reddish and can increase in size if not treated properly. It is very important that patients avoid squeezing or draining the stye. This may cause more damage and delay healing. For mild to moderate cases, treatment may include lid hygiene, warm compresses, or prescription drops. In severe cases, surgical removal may be necessary.
If you are concerned you or your family members may have some of these red eye or pink eye issues, please schedule an exam with your optometrist at Brookside Optometric Group.