Causes of Pink Eye
What are the Causes of Pink Eye
Pink eye, also known as Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is a translucent mucus membrane that covers the sclera or white part of the eye and covers also the inside of the eyelid.
Causes of Pink Eye
1- Viral conjunctivitis which is the most common type and also the most contagious to the other eye of the same person and also to other people. Viral conjunctivitis usually starts in one eye and then spread to the other eye within days.
The most common viruses are adenovirus, Rubeola (measles) virus, herpes conjunctivitis and Picornaviruses, such as coxsackievirus A24 and enterovirus 70 and Coronavirus. Herpes viral conjunctivitis is usually in one eye and usually occurs with rash on the eyelid.
Symptoms of Viral Conjunctivitis
- Red eye.
- Watery Discharge.
- Chemosis or conjunctival swelling.
- Foreign body sensation.
- Eyelid swelling.
- Blurry vision from excessive discharge and in sometimes and in severe cases the virus can infect the cornea and form multiple corneal opacities.
- Conjunctival membranes or pseudo membranes especially the conjunctiva the cover the inner surface of the eyelid.
- Systemic association. Some of the viruses that cause viral conjunctivitis can cause common cold and flu like syndrome with high fever, pharyngitis, periauricular lymph node enlargement.
2- Bacterial conjunctivitis which also starts in one eye and then spreads to the other eye. The most common cause of bacterial conjunctivitis are Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus and Haemophilus influenzae.
Ophthalmia neonatorum is any conjunctivitis that occurs in the first month of birth and it is mainly caused by Chlamydia trachomatis. Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Herpes simplex virus. This form should be treated immediately because it can cause permanent ocular and systematic damage for the baby.
3- Allergic conjunctivitis which is caused by an allergic reaction to allergens such as pollen, house dust mite and environmental factors.
Symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis:
- Watery discharge.
- Foreign body sensation.
- Chemosis and eyelid swelling.
- Eye itching.
- Runny nose.
- Systemic symptoms and conditions such as ezcema, asthma and urticaria.
Types of allergic conjunctivitis Atopic keratoconjunctivitis (AKC) Vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC).
4- Giant papillary conjunctivitis that is caused by mechanical irritation from wearing contact lenses and ocular prosthesis.
5- Cicatricial conjunctivitis. It is chronic inflammation of the eye which leads to conjunctival scarring and fibrosis. There are many causes such as ocular cicatricial pemphigoid, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, Ligneous conjunctivitis and trachoma.
6- Toxic conjunctivitis. Which occurs due to toxicity from eye drops such as Brimonidine, Apraclonidine, idoxuridine and Contact lens solution.
When to seek medical attention
Make the call if:
- Yellowish to greenish discharge from your eye.
- Severe ocular pain.
- Blurry vision.
- Symptoms that persist more than a week.
- Systemic symptoms such as high fever and skin rash.
- Seek medical attention immediately if your baby as a pink eye.
Pink eye Treatment
The treatment depends on the cause of the conjunctivitis.
1- Viral conjunctivitis usually lasts from 7 to 10 days. It can be treated with cold compress, lubricant eye drops and sometimes in severe condition we can use mild corticosteroids for few days to alleviate symptoms.
2- Bacterial conjunctivitis is treated with antibiotics in the form of eye drops, ointments, or pills and under doctor supervision. Bacterial conjunctivitis caused by STDs should be treated with eye drops plus oral, intravenous or intramuscular antibiotics.
3- Allergic conjunctivitis caused by Irritants should be treated with lubricant eye drops that can washout the irritants from your eye. Don’t wash your eye with water as this can irritate your eye more but if the conjunctivitis was caused by chemical material such as bleach, you should immediately rinse your eyes with running water for at least 10-15 minutes and visit the emergency department right away for further evaluation and management.
4- Allergic Conjunctivitis can be treated by avoiding your allergy trigger. Antihistamines drops plus lubricant eye drops can be used also. Oral antihistamine won’t do any good for allergic conjunctivitis but it can be used if ocular involvement is a part of systemic allergic condition such as eczema.
Home Remedies for Pink eye
1- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water, especially before eating to reduce the risk of contamination and also to prevent the spread of infection to others.
2- Keep your eyes clean. Wash your eye and your eyelid from any crust or discharge several times a day using special eye wipe, paper towel or cotton.
3- Change or wash your pillowcase, bed linens and towel every day and don’t share your towel.
4- Don’t rub your infected eye as this can make your condition worse and also it can spread the infection but instead of that you can use tissues to wipe.
5- Don’t use or share your eye drops, eye makeup, contact lenses.
6- Don’t wear contact lenses and use glasses instead.
7- Use cold compress, such as a washcloth soaked in cold water. Put it on your eye for a few minutes, 3 to 4 times a day. This help to reduce the inflammation and swelling and also to ease pain.
8- Use lubricant eye drops frequently. Especially preservative free lubricant eye drops. These eye drops help to reduce foreign body sensation, burning sensation and itching. In addition of that, it helps to remove and washout any crusts and irritants from the eye.
9- Don’t patch your eye. It may worsen the infection.
For more information about home remedies for pink eye, clink here.