We have all heard of “pink eye” but what is it? Pink eye or “conjunctivitis” is a non-specific term for an inflammation or infection of the outer surface of the eye called the conjunctiva. It can be caused by an infection, either bacterial or viral, or it can be due to an allergy. The symptoms include red eyes, feeling like there is something in your eye, excessive tearing or discharge, light sensitivity and /or blurred vision. One or both eyes may be affected.
Viral conjunctivitis usually produces a relatively clear discharge. Bacterial conjunctivitis often produces a thicker, yellow-green discharge. Both may be associated with a cold, sinus infection or sore throat. Because pink eye can be contagious, it should be diagnosed and treated early. Someone with pink eye may be contagious for seven to 14 days after the symptoms first appear. For that reason, they should be careful about sharing towels and pillow cases with others. They should also wash their hands frequently, especially after touching their eyes.
What about treatment? If the cause is bacterial then antibiotic eye drops are prescribed. If it is due to an allergy, there are good over-the-counter and prescription drops available. If it is due to a viral infection, generally you just have to wait it out unless there is a severe inflammation of the surface of the eye. Your eye doctor can tell the difference between these three possibilities.
Do you or someone in your family have the symptoms of pink eye? We are here to help.
Dr. Mark German is an Optometrist at Lakeshore Eye Care Professionals. He specializes in general eye care and contact lens fitting. Lakeshore Eye Care has two offices just north of Milwaukee in Ozaukee County. Both the Mequon and Saukville offices are readily accessible to Highway 43.
Lakeshore Eye Care has two Ophthalmologists, Dr. Martha Jay and Dr. Josephine-Liezl Cueto, in addition to Dr. Mark German. They offer a full range of medical and surgical eye care including blade-free iLASIK and small incision cataract surgery with premium lens implants.
Call 262-241-1919 for more information or their web site LakeShoreVision.com.