Conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pinkeye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva — the clear, thin tissue that lies over the white part of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid. There are a number of different culprits for causing pinkeye. The four most common include viruses, bacteria, irritants and allergens. There is no set treatment for pinkeye as each cause requires a different regiment.
Symptoms of pinkeye include redness in the white part of the eye or inner eyelid, green or white discharge forming in the eye, itchy or burning sensations, blurred vision, increased sensitivity to light or an increased amount of tears produced. You or your child may also experience a thick yellow discharge that crusts over the eyelashes, especially after sleeping.
Pinkeye caused by bacteria is treated with antibiotics in the form of eye drops, ointments or oral medication. Eye drops and/or ointments should be applied to the inside of the eyelid three to four times a day for seven days. Oral medications may need to be taken anywhere from seven to ten days and should be taken exactly as prescribed. Do not discontinue use of your medications just because your symptoms dissipate.
The type of pinkeye caused by viruses often results from the viruses that cause a common cold. Similar to a cold, this form of pinkeye must run its course, usually lasting four to seven days. It is also the most contagious form of pinkeye. Be sure to wash your hands frequently. If you wear contact lenses, throw away any lenses worn while you have had pinkeye and wear glasses.
Irritants such as dirt, shampoo or smoke may also cause pinkeye. The best treatment for this form of pinkeye is to use water to wash the substance from your eye. Your eyes should improve within a few hours. If the conjunctivitis is caused by acid or alkaline material such as bleach, immediately flush your eyes with water and call your health care provider. Allergy-associated pinkeye should improve once the allergy is treated and the allergen is removed.
Pinkeye is not a serious health concern if diagnosed and treated promptly. Pinkeye in newborn babies should be reported to a physician immediately as it could be detrimental to their vision. If you believe you or your child has contracted pinkeye, contact your health care provider immediately. If you do not have a primary health care provider, please call 317-880-8687.
Dr. Nydia Nuñez-Estrada
Eskenazi Health Urgent Care East