Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is one of the most common eye conditions, and well-known for its itchy, crusty, runny symptoms. At Spectrum Eye Physicians, we understand you may have lots of questions if you or a loved one develop these symptoms. Let us talk about these questions and what optometry services you may need.
Is Pink Eye Dangerous?
Pink eye is an infection, and all infections pose some risks, especially to those with compromised immune systems or other problems. However, despite being itchy and uncomfortable, pink eye has a low risk of causing additional problems and typically resolves itself.
However, there are some cases where it is important to see a doctor and get an examination and potentially additional treatment. Newborns with pink eye, for example, should always see their pediatrician to help prevent serious complications. Those undergoing cancer treatments or other treatments that affect the immune system should also see their doctor immediately. And, of course, if the pink eye is causing a lot of pain or vision problems, you should always make an appointment to get it checked out.
Is Pink Eye Always Contagious?
Pink eye has a reputation for being very contagious – and that is partly true. There are both viral and bacterial forms of pink eye, and they can both be spread very easily by direct contact, airborne, or objects that have the microorganisms on them. It does not help that pink eye tends to cause a lot of discharge, nor that the itchiness can make it very tempting to scratch with your hands. Add all that up, and it is not surprising that the infection spreads so easily in schools!
However, at other times pink eye can be caused by serious reactions to allergens in the air. If this is what creates the infection, it is not contagious like the other versions pink eye – although it still requires proper care.
How Long is Pink Eye Contagious?
This can vary greatly based on how serious the infection is, and the body responds when fighting it. Some cases resolve in several days. Other cases can take a few weeks before they are no longer contagious. And do not forget, sometimes pink eye starts in one eye and eventually spreads to the other, which can extend the length of the infection and make it stay contagious for longer.
What Is the Best Way to Treat Pink Eye?
For the eye itself, it is important to keep it clean and comfortable. Healthy, lubricating eyedrops can often ease symptoms, and some people prefer to wear an eyepatch to keep the eye closed and reduce the chances of infection. People who wear contact lenses should stop wearing contacts until their symptoms clear up.
It is also important to practice good hygiene. Regularly rinse out the eye, and frequently wash pillowcases, sheets, and other things that meet the eye.
For bad cases, a doctor may recommend antibiotics or other forms of treatment to help treat the condition more effectively.
Remember, you can contact Spectrum Eye Physicians to arrange an appointment if necessary. We serve the San Jose, Cupertino, Los Gatos, and Santa Cruz area. Feel free to ask us any questions you have!