From doctors’ offices and work places, to schools and churches, many people in Tooele County are looking rather sad these days. While red eyes are sometimes caused by emotion, conjunctivitis (pink eye) has been running rampant in this area of the state over the past few weeks.
The infection comes in different forms but almost always conjunctival inflammation gives the eye a reddish hue. (The conjunctiva is the thin membrane that covers the white part of eye and also lines the inner surface of the eyelids.)
Many suffering from pink eye feel as if they have sand in their eye. An infected person may have swollen eyelids, be sensitive to bright light and have eyelids that stick together when they awaken in the morning.
The way a person’s eye feels gives some clues as to which type of infection they have contracted. According to the www. allaboutvision.com web site the following are descriptions of the various symptoms.
• Viral conjunctivitis usually affects only one eye and causes excessive eye watering and a light discharge, sometimes clear.
• Bacterial conjunctivitis affects both eyes and causes a heavy discharge, colored white, yellow, or green.
• Allergic conjunctivitis affects both eyes and causes itching and redness in the eyes and sometimes the nose, as well as excessive tearing.
• Giant papillary conjunctivitis usually affects both eyes and causes contact lens intolerance, itching, a heavy discharge, tearing and red bumps on the underside of the eyelids.
According to an information packet from Mountain West Family Practice and the Nemours Foundation, the causes of conjunctivitis vary from the following:
• Viral infection: Conjunctivitis may accompany colds or childhood diseases such as measles.
• Bacterial infection: Many different bacteria can cause conjunctivitis but the most common are Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenza, and Staphylococcus aureus. The organisms that cause the sexually transmitted diseases gonorrhea and chlamydia can also infect the eyes and cause conjunctivitis.
• Chemical irritation or wind, dust, smoke and other types of air pollution or home chemicals.
• Allergies caused by cosmetics, pollen or other allergens.
• A partially closed tear duct.
• Intense light, such as from sunlamps, snow reflection or electric arcs in welding. A doctor can usually pinpoint which type of infection a person has and according to allaboutvision. com, doctors don’t normally prescribe medication for viral conjunctivitis because it usually clears up on its own within a few days. The site also noted that antibiotic eyedrops will alleviate bacterial conjunctivitis, whereas antihistamine allergy pills or eyedrops will help control allergic conjunctivitis symptoms. For giant papillary conjunctivitis, a doctor may prescribe eyedrops to reduce inflammation and itching. Because conjunctivitis may be caused by bacteria or viruses, it is very contagious. Therefore, it is recommend that people wash their hands often and refrain from touching their eyes.
Don’t share eyedrops, tissues, eye makeup, washcloths, towels, or pillowcases with other people. Replace your eye-makeup after an infection clears up to avoid catching it again.
Allaboutvision.com also indicated that a person’s eyecare practitioner may recommend not wearing contact lenses during the infection or replacing contact lenses after a person is completely healed.
Warm compresses may help soothe your eyes if you have viral or bacterial conjunctivitis. Although infectious conjunctivitis is usually not severe, in rare cases it can cause permanent damage or even blindness.
Call your doctor if you’re concerned you may be infected with pink eye.