Preventing and Relieving Pink Eye
Conjunctivitis, commonly called “pink eye”, is a contagious eye infection that spreads easily throughout schools, daycares, and other places with lots of physical interaction. It is commonly caused by a virus or bacteria, and while it is usually not serious, it can cause a lot of discomfort in the affected person! Symptoms can include red coloring in the whites of the eyes, itching, swollen eyelids, sticky drainage, and discomfort. The best way to prevent pink eye from spreading is to wash your hands and avoid touching your face, since it spreads through contact of infected eye drainage. Contracting it could be as easy as touching your eye after shaking hands with someone who had just rubbed their infected eyes. Once you get pink eye, you can expect it to last anywhere from 3-10 days, although in some cases viral pink eye can last for several weeks.
When to see your Optometrist
You should see your optometrist right away if you think you have pink eye, especially with any eye pain, moderate eyelid swelling, or blurry vision, which could be a sign of a more serious condition. An eye doctor can determine what type of pink eye you have, and there are antibiotic treatments available for bacterial pink eye. Viral pink eye usually has to run its course, although there are some medications for more rare forms of viral pink eye. But while you are waiting for your pink eye to clear up, there are several things you can do at home to help relieve the discomfort.
Home Remedies for Pink Eye
Soak a washcloth in warm water and lay it over your eyes. Not only does this provide topical relief, it will help to soften any crusted discharge around the eyelid, which you can then wipe away. This also works well if you wake up in the morning and cannot open your eye because of the dried discharge.
A cold pack can also provide relief. Use a cold pack as an alternative to the warm washcloth; you may find that you prefer one type over the other. If your eye is swelling, the cold pack will help the swelling go down. Try freezing a wet washcloth or wet gauze for 30 minutes and using it as a cold pack.
Artificial tears are another way to help with pinkeye discomfort. They are especially helpful for dryness that results from the infection.
Avoid anything that would strain your eyes, such as a lot of screen time. This will just cause more discomfort on top of the infection.
As long as you wash your hands thoroughly, avoid sharing washcloths and other items that touch your face, and avoid touching your face, you will stand a better chance of preventing your pink eye from spreading through the house and to other people. Practice these prevention strategies when you are well, and you may avoid getting pink eye in the first place!