How To Treat And Avoid Pink Eye?: Diagnosis And Treatment

Pink eye treatment

Introduction

Pink eye, popularly known as conjunctivitis, is an inflammation or infection of the outer membrane of the eyeball and the inner eyelid. It can be caused by bacterial infections, allergies, or viruses. 

Pink eye is highly contagious and is spread by coming in contact with the eye secretion of someone who is infected with it. 

Diagnosis

Ophthalmologists diagnose pink eye by determining the health history of the patient and examining the symptoms displayed by the patient. In the case of an allergen-induced pink eye, the doctors may recommend a blood test or a skin allergy test to determine what the patient is allergic to. 

In rare cases, doctors take a sample of the liquid that drains from the eye. Further down a laboratory analysis is done to determine if there is a foreign body or particle in the eye.  

Treatment

There are mainly three types of pink eyes, namely bacterial pink eye, viral pink eye, and allergy-induced pink eye. Although there are different medicines to treat these different types of pink eye, self-care and natural healing are the most common courses of action prescribed to patients. 

Home Treatment: When our eye is exposed to allergens, the body releases histamine which is a chemical that causes redness, tears, and itching in the eye. Rinsing the eye with cold or lukewarm water helps relieve the discomfort in the eyes. Doctors also prescribe taking artificial tears which helps in treating itching and dryness.

Another common way to treat a pink eye at home is to apply hot and cold compress on the affected eye with a moist cloth. The warm compress helps reduce the sticky build-up of discharge or crust that forms over the eye, while the cold compress relieves itching and inflammation. The eyes should be closed during this process and it should be repeated three to four times a day.

It is important to avoid contact lenses or putting on eye make-up while suffering from conjunctivitis as they may be a source of re-infection. Even otherwise, they may worsen the discomfort. 

Viral Pink Eye: In cases of viral pink eye, no medicine can cure it and it usually runs its course which lasts for about 4-7 days. In such cases, the focus should be on pain alleviation and preventing its spread to others. Antibiotics do not work in such a situation as the infection is not caused by bacteria. 

Although antiviral treatments are not required, doctors prescribe over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants to relieve the symptoms. These symptoms are also relieved with hot and cold compresses and artificial tears. 

Some doctors also prescribe paracetamol to treat fever and body pain which often accompanies a viral pink eye. 

Bacterial Pink Eye: It is treated with ophthalmic antibiotics eye drops which work by stopping the growth of bacteria. They also contain hydrocortisone which is an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid that helps in reducing swelling. 

Some patients are also prescribed topical antibiotics which help in preventing infections caused by bacteria. Ointments that contain sulfacetamide sodium are also used to treat this type of pink eye. 

Allergic Pink Eye: Conjunctivitis which occurs due to an allergic reaction to pollens, dust, or chemical products used for the eyes or hair is called an allergic pink eye. This is a very commonly occurring form of pink eye because the covering of our eyelids has a membrane called conjunctiva which is susceptible to irritation from allergens.

The first step to treat an allergy-induced pink eye is to determine what one is allergic to and ensure that they are not exposed to it. 

Just like other forms of pink eye, they make the infected eye watery, red, and itchy. Allergy-induced pink eye is treated by taking antihistamines which block the effects of histamine in the body. In extreme cases where anti-inflammation eye drops do not work, steroid eye drops are prescribed.  

How to avoid Pink Eye?

One of the easiest ways to avoid pink eye is to maintain a high standard of hygiene in day to day life. It is recommended that we wash our hands frequently with a disinfectant or warm water for 20 seconds especially after coming returning from a public place. One should use clean towels on a regular basis and strictly avoid sharing towels to restrict the spread of pink eye.

  • It is not advisable to share eye cosmetics like eye-liner and mascara as it may expose both the users to the infection. Any eye cosmetics used during a pink eye infection must be discarded to prevent re-infection. 
  • One must change their bedding, including bed and pillow covers and bedsheets to avoid any bacteria build-up on them and to avoid re-infection in cases of infected individuals.
  • We come in contact with several objects that have the potential to have irritants, bacteria, and viruses which may cause pink eye. Therefore, it is important to avoid touching and rubbing our eyes without first cleaning them. Even infected patients should avoid rubbing and touching their infected eyes to prevent worsening of the condition or spreading to the other eye. 
  • One of the most common sources from where people get pink eye is swimming pools. It can be due to an infected person using the pool or the chemicals used to clean the pool. It is important to choose a swimming pool where high hygiene standards are maintained. Swimmers should also use swimming goggles while in the pool and take a shower after swimming.

People who use contact lens should store and clean the lenses as instructed by an ophthalmologist and do their best to prevent the lenses from coming in contact with irritants or bacteria. It is also recommended to change lenses every week or month – depending on the quality and durability of the lenses.

People who have allergies may be more susceptible to contracting allergic conjunctivitis. It is crucial for such people to get an allergy skin test or a blood test done to determine which specific allergens one is susceptible to and then try and actively avoid coming in contact with them.

Infected patients should be careful to prevent getting re-infected by disposing of all medicines and eye drops used to treat pink eye, and also by avoiding sharing their things with others. 

Conclusion

Pink eye is a very painful infection that can be treated with timely diagnosis and care. People who contract pink eye must be careful to not spread it among others by taking proper precautions. One must consult an ophthalmologist as soon as he/she displays any of the symptoms associated with pink eye. It is also important to maintain high standards of hygiene to prevent the occurrence and spread of pink eye.