Conjunctivitis, commonly called pinkeye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids.
Pinkeye can be alarming because it may make the eyes extremely red and can spread quickly. But it’s fairly common and usually causes no long-term eye or vision damage. It is normally seen in children in day care centres and schools.
Because pinkeye is often spread from eye to hand to eye, good hand-washing is important. Sharing a washcloth, towel, or other item with a person who has pinkeye can spread the infection.
Causes of conjunctivitis (pink eye)
Conjunctivitis (pink eye) can be caused by many of the bacteria and viruses responsible for ear infections
, sinus infections
, sore throats
, Chlamydia and gonorrhoea (two sexually transmitted diseases
Conjunctivitis (pink eye) can also be caused by allergies. These cases tend to happen more often in children who also have other allergic conditions, such as hay fever
. Triggers of allergic conjunctivitis
include grass, ragweed pollen, animal dander, and dust mites.
The most common signs and symptoms of conjunctivitis
(pink eye) include:
- Redness in one or both eyes
- Itchiness in one or both eyes
- A gritty feeling in one or both eyes
- A discharge in one or both eyes that forms a crust during the night that may prevent your eyes from opening in the morning
- More tears than usual
- Mild sensitivity to light
Conjunctivitis (pink eye), caused by a virus, usually goes away without any treatment. If an eye specialist thinks that the pinkeye is due to a bacterial infection
, antibiotic eye drops or ointment
will be prescribed.
Sometimes it can be a challenge to get children to tolerate eye drops several times a day. If you’re having trouble, put the drops on the inner corner of your child’s closed eye. If you continue to experience trouble with drops, ask the eye doctor about antibiotic ointment. It can be applied in a thin layer where the eyelids meet, and will melt and enter the eye.
If your child has allergic conjunctivitis, your eye doctor
may prescribe anti-allergy medicine
, which comes in the form of pills, liquid, or eye drops
. Using cool or warm compresses on the eyes may make your child more comfortable. Clean the edges of the infected eye carefully with warm water and gauze or cotton balls. This can also remove the crusts of dried discharge that may cause the eyelids to stick together first thing in the morning.
When to visit an ophthalmologist?
If you suspect your child with conjunctivitis (pink eye), it’s crucial to contact an ophthalmologist to learn the cause and how to treat it. Other serious eye conditions
can have similar symptoms, so a child who complains of severe pain, changes in eyesight, swelling around the eyes or sensitivity to light should be examined. If the pinkeye does not improve after 2 to 3 days of treatment, book an appointment with an ophthalmologist