Pink Eye – What It is and How to Treat It
Pink, itchy eyes are a sign of conjunctivitis, or pink eye. A treatable condition that commonly occurs in both children and adults, pink eye is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the clear, thin mucous membrane that lines the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelid. The inflammation makes the blood vessels in the eye more prominent, giving the eye a pinkish or reddish cast, and is often accompanied by cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, sinus congestion, and watery eyes. The eyelids can sometimes become swollen as well.
Most cases of pink eye are caused by bacteria, viruses, allergens, or other eye irritants, such as swimming pool chlorine, smoke, or household cleaning products. If an irritating substance enters the eye, a prompt and thorough washing with cool water is recommended. Usually mild conjunctivitis will often resolve on its own within seven to 10 days. In the meantime, cold, moist washcloths applied to the eyes and over-the-counter decongestant eye drops can be helpful for relieving symptoms.
Depending on its cause and severity, pink eye can sometimes require an antibiotic or other medical treatment. A patient with suspected pink eye should see a healthcare provider if he or she has:
- Blurred vision that doesn’t improve with blinking
- Sensitivity to light
- Intense redness in the eye
- Moderate to severe eye pain
- A weakened immune system
- Pre-existing eye conditions
Pink eye that is caused by a virus or bacteria is very contagious and easily spread from person to person. To reduce the risk of infecting others, patients are advised to wash their hands thoroughly and often, avoid touching their eyes, and refrain from sharing washcloths, towels, makeup, contact lenses, and the like.
For more health and safety tips, please consult our online series of articles, or feel free to stop by South Tampa Immediate Care. Our walk-in clinic is conveniently located on South Howard Avenue in Tampa, FL, and we would like to extend a warm welcome to patients from Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Brandon, and throughout the Greater Tampa Bay area.