Causes, Symptoms and How to Avoid Getting Pink Eye

 In Eye Care

Pink eye is an infection that stems from a variety of possible causes. It is common and sometimes patients have incorrect beliefs about the causes of pink eye and how to treat it. To better understand how to avoid getting pink eye, you also need to learn the basics about what it is and what causes pink eye.

Please remember this article on how to avoid getting pink eye, like any other on our website, is purely an educational resource and is not intended as a substitute for medical care.  We urge our patients to contact us if they have any symptoms or pink eye or concerns.

What is Pink Eye? What Causes It?

Pink eye is a common nickname for conjunctivitis which is a type of infection on the conjunctiva membrane that covers the white portion of your eyeball and also lines the eyelid. The blood vessels become inflamed resulting in a reddish or pink appearance.

Some common causes of pink eye include allergies, bacterial infection, viral infection, reactions to cosmetic ingredients, or other sources of eye inflammation. Infants sometimes get pink eye as the result of tear duct blockage.

Fortunately pink eye rarely affects vision, especially if treated. But it can be unpleasant and irritating. Be sure to contact your eye doctor if you suspect that you or a loved one has pink eye. Some forms of pink eye are contagious so early treatment is ideal. Also one possible complication is inflammation in the cornea and that may impact vision.

Some potential causes of pink eye:

  • Chemical splash to the eye.
  • Bacterial infection from cross-contamination while applying eye makeup, changing contact lenses, or touching the eyes.
  • Allergic reactions to detergents, eye makeup, or something else that comes in contact with the eye.
  • Blocked tear duct especially for babies.
  • A foreign object in the eye.

Viral and bacterial pink eye are most common and are also contagious. Sometimes pink eye develops while fighting a cold or flu alongside other symptoms like a sore throat or respiratory infection. Sometimes those who suffer seasonal allergies also develop pink eye. Seasonal allergy symptoms often mirror cold and flu symptoms and allergies may develop at any time in one’s life.

Bacterial pink eye requires an antibiotic prescription. It has some additional symptoms to common pink eye symptoms including a secretion that may be yellow or green in color. Often bacterial pink eye starts in one eye and may spread to the other. It is also contagious.

Common Symptoms of Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis

Although pink eye has many causes, many types of pink eye share the same set of  symptoms including:

  • Redness or pinkness in one or both eyes –this symptom is why the condition is referred to as pink eye.
  • Itchy sensations in the affected eye.
  • A gritty feeling or sensation of a foreign object in one or both eyes.
  • Discharge from the eye that forms a crust at night.
  • Difficulty opening eyes in the morning due to the crusty buildup.
  • Tearing in the affected eye.

Since there are serious conditions that can cause these symptoms, please discuss your pink eye with your eye doctor and seek treatment.

If you are a contact lens wearer this is especially important since it could be the result of an eye infection from poor hygiene or cross-contamination while inserting or removing contact lenses. Also, avoid using your contact lenses if you have pink eye or any other eye infection until you heal and your eye doctor says you can return to contact lens use.

How To Avoid Getting Pink Eye

Now that you understand a few of the causes of pink eye, you are better prepared to how to avoid getting pink eye. If you are a parent, you are also better able to prevent your child from developing pink eye.

Good hygiene is probably the best way to prevent many types of pink eye. Avoid touching your eyes with unclean hands and wash hands frequently throughout the day. Also keep any items that go near the yes clean including washcloths, makeup brushes, sheets, and pillowcases. Always cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.

Since pink eye is sometimes contagious, avoid sharing cosmetics and any other item that may come in contact with eye fluids like eye drop bottles and makeup brushes.

If you wear contact lenses, carefully follow your optometrist’s instructions on cleaning, storing, and using your lenses. These instructions are to prevent infection including pink eye. Do not wear your contact lenses for longer than directed. Remove them before sleeping or swimming.

Those who suffer from Allergic conjunctivitis may find relief as the result of treating their allergies or avoiding allergens. Allergic reactions are so varied that it is difficult to give general advice. Please see your doctor if you develop pink eye that may be the result of a seasonal allergy or any other allergic reaction.

What to Do if You Have Pink Eye

It is always better to know how to avoid getting pink eye. If you already have pink eye, first see your optometrist to rule out more serious causes and for treatment. In addition, pay careful attention to hygiene to avoid spreading the infection or even reinfecting yourself.

  • Wash sheets, pillowcases, eye masks, and bedding.
  • Launder washcloths, makeup sponges, and towels.
  • Wash your hands frequently using warm soapy water.
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses until healed and your optometrist gives you the okay.
  • Dispose of and replace any eye drop bottles and cosmetics you were using when your eye became infected.
  • Avoid rubbing or touching the eyes.
  • Do not share any items that go near the eyes like makeup brushes, cosmetic products, washcloths, etc.
  • If your doctor or optometrist prescribe any eye drops or medications, be sure to use them as directed.

If you are a Charlotte resident and a member of your household appears to have pink eye, give us a call. Locals have trusted their vision to us since 2004. Also, feel free to take the opportunity to schedule an eye examination if you haven’t had one recently.

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