Conjunctivitis, often called pink eye, is an infection or irritation of the eye that makes it red, sore, and sticky. At ReVision Optix in Simpsonville and Greenville, South Carolina, Sean M. Stevens, OD, and Tiffany Brawner, OD, understand how uncomfortable conjunctivitis is, and how important it is to find out exactly what’s causing it. For a swift diagnosis and effective treatment, call ReVision Optix today or book an appointment online.
Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the clear surface of the whites of your eyes and inside your eyelids, which is called the conjunctiva. You’re probably more familiar with the term pink eye, which is how many people refer to viral conjunctivitis.
Conjunctivitis is very common in schools and kindergartens, or anywhere children congregate, so your child is quite likely to get conjunctivitis at some stage. Although the red eyes can look quite alarming, conjunctivitis isn’t normally anything to worry about, and it’s highly unlikely to cause long-term problems with your vision.
There are several possible causes for conjunctivitis. Infections from bacteria and viruses are a common cause of conjunctivitis, but it can also be caused by:
In some cases, conjunctivitis can develop as a result of infection with a sexually transmitted disease. Both chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause conjunctivitis, and bacterial conjunctivitis linked to gonorrhea, although rare, can be serious.
Symptoms vary depending on whether the cause is viral, bacterial, or environmental, but typical symptoms include:
Eyes infected with conjunctivitis often produce a thick, sticky, yellow discharge that forms crusts on the eyelashes. These crusts can glue your eyelids shut as you sleep, so you can’t open your eyes when you wake up. In some cases, you may have a green or whitish discharge instead.
When you see your optometrist at ReVision Optix, they isolate the cause of your conjunctivitis before they treat it. To do this, they take a sample of fluid from your eyelid to identify if there’s a bacterial or viral cause or if the conjunctivitis is related to an STD.
Viral conjunctivitis won’t respond to antibiotics, so it’s just a case of letting nature take its course and helping your immune system fight off the infection. Bacterial infections do respond to antibiotics, so your optometrist might give you an ointment, eye drops, or oral antibiotics to kill the infection.
If your conjunctivitis is due to an irritant or allergen, then removing the cause helps to speed up recovery. You can use antihistamine medicine or eyedrops to help with the symptoms, but avoid them if you have dry eyes as antihistamines can dry your eyes out even more.
Because the causes of conjunctivitis differ, and other conditions show similar symptoms, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis. If you think you or your child has conjunctivitis, call ReVision Optix today to schedule an appointment, or use the online booking tool.