Pink Eye

In our series on Eye Health, Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talks to us about Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye.

Almost everyone would have suffered from a pink eye at some stage. You rub your eyes, but they won’t stop feeling uncomfortable and appear red as well as puffy. Your eyes don’t hurt, but the discomfort is annoying as it feels like you have an eyelash or a speck of sand in your eye. Later in the day you start developing yellow discharge. These symptoms may likely be due to a common eye problem called conjunctivitis, or better known as pink eye.

What is Conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is the inflammation of the conjunctiva which is the clear tissue that lies over the white part of the eye and insides of the eyelids. It is one of the most common eye infections, causing redness, discomfort, swelling, and more than usual eye discharge collecting in the eyes. Conjunctivitis may start in one eye and then spread to the other eye. It usually lasts for about a week but there are some varieties of conjunctivitis that may be prolonged and certain specialised treatment may need to be given.

Conjunctivitis can also be caused by irritants such as shampoos (causing chemical conjunctivitis), as well as pollen and dust (allergic conjunctivitis) or improper prolonged contact lens wear (contact lens induced conjunctivitis).

Types of Conjunctivitis

Pink eye is usually caused by a bacterial or viral infection. These types of conjunctivitis are contagious and you can get infected by contact – simply by touching the hand of a friend who has just touched his or her infected eyes. If you then touch your eyes, the infection can spread to you. The other way it can spread is by touching contaminated articles like door handles, armrests of chairs, and the sharing of towels with anyone who has conjunctivitis. And no, it does not spread by looking at a person with conjunctivitis.

The symptoms of pinkeye may include some or all of the following:

  • Redness in the white of the eye or inner eyelids (conjunctiva).
  • Increased amount of tears (lacrimation) / discharge.
  • Thick discharge that has dried over the eyelashes, especially in the mornings after sleep.
  • Itchy and/or burning eyes.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Increased sensitivity to light (photophobia).

Treating Conjunctivitis

As there are various types of causes for conjunctivitis, you should visit your doctor to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.

Dr Gill will share more on conjunctivitis in the next issue of Ipoh Echo.

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