pink eye

What is Pink Eye and is it Contagious?

What is pink eye?

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, causes swelling and redness in the inside of your eyelid and the white part of your eye.

ALERT WARNING: Pink eye in newborns. Pink eye can cause serious health problems for newborn babies. Call a doctor now if your baby has:

  • Unusual fluid (discharge) coming from the eye
  • Puffy red eyelids

What are the symptoms of pink eye?

The most common symptoms of pink eye are:

  • Pink or red eyes
  • Itchy or burning eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • White, yellow, or green discharge
  • Crust along your eyelids or eyelashes

Pink eye may also cause:

  • Swollen eyelids
  • A feeling like something’s stuck in your eye
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Blurry vision
  • A lump in front of your ear

If you wear contact lenses, you may notice that they feel uncomfortable or don’t stay in place.

Am I at risk for pink eye?

Anyone can get pink eye. It’s one of the most common eye problems for both children and adults.

What causes pink eye?

Most of the time, pink eye is caused by a virus or bacterial infection. Viral pink eye is the most common type.

You’re more likely to get pink eye if you:

  • Come in contact with someone else who has pink eye
  • Have recently been unwell
  • Wear contact lenses
  • Have allergies

How can I prevent pink eye from spreading?

Viral and bacterial pink eye spread very easily from person to person — but you can take steps to keep pink eye from spreading.

If you’re around someone who has pink eye:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Wash your hands after you touch the person with pink eye or something that person used.
  • Don’t share personal items that the person with pink eye has used — including pillows, towels, makeup, or glasses.

If you have pink eye:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Be extra careful about washing them after you touch your eyes or use eye drops or medicine.
  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes.
  • If you have discharge, wash the area around your eyes 2 or 3 times a day. Use a clean, wet washcloth or a fresh cotton ball each time. Be sure to wash your hands before and after washing your eyes.
  • Don’t share personal items with other people — including pillows, towels, makeup, or glasses.
  • Clean your glasses regularly.
  • If you wear contact lenses, follow your eye doctor’s instructions for cleaning, storing, and replacing them.

You can also take steps to prevent getting pink eye again:

  • Throw away any makeup that you used while you had pink eye. This includes eye makeup, face makeup, and brushes or sponges.
  • Throw away contact lens solution, contact lenses, and cases that you used while you had pink eye.
  • Clean your glasses and cases.

Do I need to see a doctor?

Most cases of pink eye get better on their own. Go to the doctor if:

  • You have a lot of pain in your eye
  • Your eye is very red
  • You notice a lot of mucus coming from your eyes
  • Your vision is blurry or you’re sensitive to light — and it doesn’t get better when you wipe away discharge from your eye
  • Your symptoms don’t get better after a few days — or they get worse
  • You have a health condition that weakens your immune system, like cancer or HIV
  • You have symptoms of pink eye and you wear contacts, or you recently scratched your eye

The doctor will look at your eyes and ask you some questions to find out what caused your pink eye and decide on the best way to treat it.

What is the treatment for pink eye?

Viral pink eye often gets better on its own after 7 to 10 days. Bacterial pink eye may require antibiotics. 

There are some things that help relief discomfort such as:

  • Non-preserved artificial tears – these can help with comfort and flush out the virus. 
  • Cold compresses – applying a cool pack to closed eyes regularly throughout the day can reduce inflammation and bring symptomatic relief. 

For more information, or if you have any questions you can always contact us at Focus Eye Centre on: (02) 9663 3927

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