What Is Pink Eye
Simply put, pink eye is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is a transparent membrane that lines your eyelid and covers the white part of your eyeball. There are lots of small blood vessels in the conjunctiva, and when they become inflamed, they make the whites of your eyes appear reddish or pink.
What Causes Pink Eye?
A bacterial or viral infection commonly causes pink eye, but it can also be caused by:
- Allergens such as pollen, dust mites & molds
- Irritants such as chlorine, makeup & dust
- Contact wear or contact solutions
Can Optometrists Treat Eye Infections
Even if you keep up with a regular eye care routine, an eye infection could emerge, causing discomfort and affecting your quality of life. But who should treat your eye infection? Your physician, your optometrist, or someone else?
Well dive into where you should seek medical attention and provide more details on some common types of eye infections.
Please note, if your eye infection is in conjunction with severe pain, excessive discharge, or fever, see your eye doctor immediately.
Adverse Effects Of Topical Antibiotics
Bacterial infections are typically treated with antibiotic drops which may cause systemic adverse effects. The volume of commercial dispensers exceeds the capacity of the conjunctival sac , therefore a large volume of the liquid drains out of the eye. This liquid may be systemically absorbed through different pathways including conjunctiva, nose, lacrimal drainage, pharynx, gastrointestinal tract, aqueous humour, lids, cheeks and inner ocular tissues. However, the risk of systemic absorption is low since ocular drug bioavailability is 510% and the corneal epithelium and conjunctival epithelium act as natural barriers limiting absorption. Some adverse effects include skin irritation, itching or rash with sulfonamide, sulfacetamide and neomycin. Fluoroquinolones can cause local irritation, stinging, chemosis, conjunctival hyperaemia, corneal precipitations and alteration of taste.
A minimal dose and concentration of the antibiotic must be used in pregnancy to limit systemic absorption. Patients must be advised of punctual occlusion, nasolacrimal pressure and wiping away extra liquid to prevent systemic absorption. Practitioners should refer to the ABCD pregnancy category before prescribing antibiotics to pregnant women. Antibiotics and antivirals such as chloramphenicol, tobramycin, fluoroquinolones and topical aciclovir are considered safe to use during pregnancy.
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What Causes Ocular Herpes
The type 1 herpes simplex virus that causes eye herpes is typically transmitted by oral-to-oral contact such as kissing or sharing food, eating utensils or a toothbrush.
HSV-1 infects more than half of the U.S. population by the time they reach their 20s, according to the National Institutes of Health . An estimated 3.7 billion people under age 50 have HSV-1 infection globally, says the World Health Organization .
The original HSV-1 infection often causes no symptoms, but for some, the herpes virus produces painful cold sores in or around the mouth that usually last a week or longer. The symptoms gradually fade as the virus retreats into the facial nerves beneath the skin and becomes inactive .
The virus can remain dormant within the nerves for a lifetime, without causing any apparent problems. But months or even years after infection, certain stressors can reactivate HSV-1, causing cold sores or eye infections .
These stressors can include:
Ocular herpes usually affects only one eye, but both eyes can be affected.
Left untreated, eye herpes can cause a corneal ulcer and scarring of the cornea that can cause permanent vision loss.
What Causes An Eye Infection
1) Bacterial conjunctivitis is a highly contagious, bacterial eye infection.
- Eyelids are stuck together upon waking in the morning or after a nap
- Presence of yellow or green discharge
- Whites of the eyes may be pink or red
- Eyelids are often swollen
- Affects one or both eyes
Your doctor will prescribe antibiotic eye drops to treat the infection. Your child should remain at home until the infection has cleared to avoid infecting their classmates.
2) Viral conjunctivitis is a highly contagious, viral eye infection.
- Generally affects both eyes
- Eyes appear pink and watery
- Itchy eyes
- Typically no sign of discharge
- Can appear with a fever, sore throat, and/or runny nose
What to do if your child has pink eye: Your child should remain at home to avoid infecting classmates. Take precautions so as to avoid infecting the other members of the house.
Pink eye usually resolves in three to seven days without any treatment and is no longer contagious once the tearing has stopped. Ice packs or artificial tears may alleviate some of the discomfort.
3) A blocked tear duct occurs when there is an obstruction of the tear duct, and the eye cannot effectively drain the tears. This condition presents in 10 percent of newborns.
- Affected eye continuously fills with tears that run down the face
- Eye becomes watery and irritated
- A secondary infection can resultcausing redness, swelling, and a discharge
An infection can occur if foreign particles are not removed from the eye.
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What Is Eye Discharge
Eye discharge, or “sleep” in your eyes, is a combination of mucus, oil, skin cells and other debris that accumulates in the corner of your eye while you sleep. It can be wet and sticky or dry and crusty, depending on how much of the liquid in the discharge has evaporated.
Sometimes called “rheum,” eye discharge has a protective function, removing waste products and potentially harmful debris from the tear film and the front surface of your eyes.
Your eyes produce mucus throughout the day, but a continuous thin film of tears bathes your eyes when you blink, flushing out the rheum before it hardens in your eyes.
When you’re asleep and not blinking eye discharge collects and crusts in the corners of your eyes and sometimes along the lash line, hence the term “sleep” in your eyes.
Some sleep in your eyes upon waking is normal, but excessive eye discharge, especially if it’s green or yellow in color and accompanied by blurry vision, light sensitivity or eye pain, can indicate a serious eye infection or eye disease and should be promptly examined by your eye doctor.
How To Treat Conjunctivitis Yourself
There are things you can do to help ease your symptoms.
- Boil water and let it cool down before you gently wipe your eyelashes to clean off crusts with a clean cotton wool pad .
- Hold a cold flannel on your eyes for a few minutes to cool them down.
Do not wear contact lenses until your eyes are better.
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When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider If I Or My Child Has Pink Eye
- An increase in sensitivity to light, especially if its severe.
- Blurred vision or decrease in vision.
- Eye pain.
- Feeling like there is something stuck in your eye.
- Large amount of discharge from eyes.
- Worsening symptoms.
Herpes, one of many possible causes of pink eye, is a serious infection. If not treated, vision loss and scarring of the eye are possible.
Most cases of pink eye are not associated with worrisome effects. However, these symptoms can be a sign of a serious problem, such as an ulcer, which can result in permanent vision loss. Never hesitate to call your healthcare provider if you have any concerns. Its always better to be safe than sorry.
What Is Eye Herpes
Eye herpes also called ocular herpes is a viral eye infection caused by type 1 herpes simplex virus . HSV-1 also causes cold sores around the mouth and lips.
Eye herpes can affect the superficial cells of the cornea or the main body of the cornea . Stromal herpes keratitis can cause corneal scarring and vision loss.
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How Long Do Eye Infections Last
It always depends on the type of infection to determine how long an eye infection will last. If your eye infection is a result of a common viral infection, then it should take a few days to a couple of weeks to clear up. You can use warm compresses to soothe the discomfort of an eye infection and you should avoid touching your eye at all costs.
Eye Infections Make Your Optometrist Your First Port Of Call
Posted on 07th December 2016
As we enter the winter months, many will be stocking up on tissues, vitamins and cold remedies. Unfortunately with these nasty bugs comes the increased chance of picking up an eye infection.
Infectious conjunctivitis is the most common and usually results in red, itchy eyes with sticky discharge. It is particularly prevalent amongst young children but spreads quickly to other family members.
Treatment is usually very simple, however sometimes these same symptoms can be the sign of a more serious condition. Thats why were encouraging people to visit their optometrist when they experience the signs of an eye infection. Unlike GPs, we have all the technology to give your eyes a thorough MOT to ensure that you get the right diagnosis. We can then prescribe whatever treatment is required as we have three prescribing optometrists.
It is also worth noting that most over the counter eye drops require insertion up to six times a day, however there is now a new treatment available on prescription that only requires use twice a day and dont need kept in the fridge. A lot less hassle, especially for parents with children who arent keen on drops.
If you have the signs of an eye infection this winter, give your eyes the best care possibly by making an appointment with your optometrist.
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Strep And Eye Infections
Strep is a common type of bacteria that can lead to different types of infections. One of the most common infections is strep throat, but the bacteria can also lead to an eye infection. July is Group Strep B Awareness Month. Group B is only one type of strep infection. Some strains of strep can also lead to infections of the eyes that range from mild to those that threaten vision. Below is more information on strep and the risks to the eyes.
What Should I Do If I Think I Might Have An Eye Infection
If you suspect you might have an eye infection, visit your eye doctor. Dont try to diagnose the condition yourself.
If you wear contacts, should stop using them. Only wear your glasses until you discuss the situation with your doctor.
Your doctor will need to determine what the cause of your eye infection is before treatment can be implemented. This may require a sample from your eye or some other procedure. Your physician may be able to tell just by looking at you, assessing your symptoms, and then formulating the most likely cause of your infection.
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How To Prevent Fungal Eye Infections
Here are a few tips recommended by eye doctors to reduce your risk of contact lens-related eye infections, including fungal keratitis:
Wash and dry your hands thoroughly before handling your contact lenses.
Rinse your contact lens storage case with fresh contact lens solution and let it air dry between uses.
Replace your contact lens storage case every three months, or as recommended by your eye doctor.
Never “top off” old contact lens solution with new solution. Throw away the old solution completely, clean the contact lens case and use fresh solution.
Wear contact lenses only according to schedules outlined by your eye doctor and contact lens manufacturer.
Also, the American Optometric Association and the FDA recommend that you rub your contact lenses when rinsing them with disinfecting solution, even when using a “no-rub” product.
What Should I Expect If I Have A Diagnosis Of Pink Eye
Pink eye is highly contagious if it is caused by a bacterial or viral infection. The good news is that it is not usually a serious condition. You or your child can return to daycare, school or work as soon as the infection goes away, which might be a few days to one to two weeks depending if your case is mild or more severe. If pink eye is caused by allergies, it is not contagious and you can return to normal activities at any time.
Most cases of mild to moderate pink eye clear on their own without treatment. Treatment is often needed if pink eye is severe and can shorten the amount of time you feel symptoms and can spread the condition to others.
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Save Antibiotic Use For When Its Really Needed
Of course, there will still be times when antibiotics can and should be used to treat eye infections to avoid vision loss. Whether or not antibiotics are needed to control your infection depends on the particular infection and severity, as well as your age, overall health and other considerations. Your doctor will explain whether antibiotics are right for you.
An Introduction To Eye Infections
Eye Infections are caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal agents. There are many different types of eye infections, with different causes and treatments. Eye infections can affect one or both eyes, and can occur in people of all ages. Symptoms can include irritation, redness, discharge, and reduced vision. Treatment typically depends on the cause.
What Are Some Common Eye Infections
There is a diverse range of infections that can happen to your eye. In order to chalk out the right treatment, a doctor must figure out the exact type of infection thereby prescribing the appropriate medication. Some common eye infections include pink eye, ocular herpes, conjunctivitis, which can either have viral or bacterial origin.
Outbreaks Of Eye Infections Lead To Call For Higher Standards
Following the outbreak of fungal keratitis associated with ReNu With MoistureLoc, another outbreak of a serious contact lens-related infection occurred.
In May 2007, Advanced Medical Optics announced the company was withdrawing its Complete MoisturePlus contact lens solution from the marketplace because of a possible association with the development of a potentially blinding eye infection known as Acanthamoeba keratitis.
Based on these outbreaks, a panel of eye care experts advising the FDA recommended that the agency adopt stricter guidelines for the testing of contact lenses and contact lens solutions. The panel also advised the agency to develop standardized lens care guidelines for consumers.
In particular, the panel recommended that contact lens care products should include a strong warning against reusing or “topping off” solutions, and that consumers should be advised not to use tap water to rinse their lenses or contact lens storage cases.
When Can I Return To Daycare School Or Work If I Have Pink Eye
You can usually go back to daycare, school or work as soon as your symptoms go away. Generally this might be as soon as 24 hours after antibiotic treatment of bacterial infection and between two days and seven days after viral infection. You or your childs eye should be clear of yellowish discharge or any crusting on eyelashes or in the corners of the eyes. Eyes should also be cleared of the pink color. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider and facilities about when it is safe to return or for any special return to requirements. If your pink eye was caused by an allergy, you do not need to stay home.
Signs And Symptoms Of Eye Infections
Eye infections can cause a wide range of symptoms, so pay attention to anything that seems unusual for you. The most common sign of an eye infection is pain. The pain can be intense or mild, and it can either come and go or be dull but constant. Also, pain is often aggravated by certain things, such as bright lights, touch or wind. You may also experience frequent tearing and visual disturbances, or evidence of an infection could turn up during test such as DOT physicals. If you experience any of these symptoms, visit our urgent care center immediately. Untreated eye infections can lead to permanent vision loss, so time is of the essence.
Another common sign of an eye infection is a feeling of fullness in the eye, as if something is putting pressure on it. Some people experience foreign body sensation or the feeling that something is caught in your eye, like a dust particle.
Other signs that could indicate an infection:
- Discharge from the eye, especially if green or yellowish
- Fever that seems to have no other cause
- Blurred vision
- Eyes that tear eye or water non-stop for no reason
Although you might be tempted to just reach for some eye drops, the truth is that medical treatment of eye infections is needed. At a minimum, you should see a provider to get prescription eye drops.
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Dos For Eye Infection Management
- Do maintain good hygiene when you are suffering from an eye infection. Make sure to wash your hands with mild soap and water. You can also use a hand sanitizer for the same.
- It is important to refrain from sharing clothes or any personal items of contact such as towels that can transmit the infection to the eyes.
- Make use of cold compression packs or ice cubes to wash eyes. This will provide relief from symptoms.
- Do wear spectacles always.
- Do wear sunglasses while going out to protect the eyes from exposure to sunlight.
- Do use anti-inflammatory eye drops and other medicines as prescribed by the doctor.