Pink eye: symptoms and treatment

Pink eye (medically known as conjunctivitis) occurs when the mucous membrane lining the eyelid and surface of the eye is irritated or infected, causing redness and swelling. This common condition typically disappears within 7-10 days without medical treatment.

However, there are rare circumstances that call for urgent eye care or a visit to your Calgary optometry clinic. We discuss these symptoms and the severe conditions below.

Urgent eye care Calgary

What causes pink eye?

There are two types of pink eye: viral pink eye and bacterial pink eye.

Viral pink eye is caused by adenovirus, a common respiratory virus that most often causes a sore throat or respiratory infection. There are certain adenovirus strains that cause only red eyes. Symptoms of viral pink eye include:

  • Redness in the white of the eye
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Swelling of the conjunctiva on the surface of the eye
  • Itching or burning sensation on the eyelids
  • Increased tearing that can be quite dramatic
  • Clear discharge

Bacterial pink eye is caused by bacteria entering the eye that causes an infection. Staph is the most common bacteria to cause bacterial pink eye. Symptoms of bacterial pink eye include:

  • Redness in the white of the eye
  • Coloured discharge, usually yellow, or grey
  • Crusty matter in the morning
  • Sticky eyelids during the day
  • Swollen upper lid

When to seek medical care

If you have an underlying medical condition that impairs your immune system, your symptoms may be more severe. If you have conjunctivitis combined with any of the following, see a healthcare provider immediately:

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision that does not improve when discharge is wiped away from the infected eye
  • Pain or intense redness in the infected eye
  • Symptoms get worse or don’t improve

How to prevent pink eye

Conjunctivitis is contagious and can spread quickly. If you have pink eye or you’ve been in contact with someone who has pink eye, we recommend:

  • Washing your hands frequently
  • Avoid touching your eyes and face
  • Avoid sharing a face cloth or towel with anyone

Treatment options

If you think you might have pink eye, remove your contact lenses immediately and keep them out until you can see your Calgary area optometrist. They will help you know when it’s safe to resume contact lens wear.

If you have blurred vision, light sensitivity or pain, see your SE Calgary optometrist immediately. These are symptoms of eye health problems that are much worse than pink eye.

Ask your pharmacist to recommend an eyelid cleansing product to clear away discharge and crusty matter. If you think you need a prescription, see your optometrist or your family doctor. Prescribing the right eyedrop requires a diagnosis that can only be obtained using a Slit Lamp Bio-Microscope.

If your pink eye is worsening, and becoming more red, or if it’s been there for more than 24 hours, it’s time to see your Calgary area optometrist for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

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