Scarbrough Family Eyecare
Optometry located in Traverse City, MI & Beulah, MI
Did you know that “red eyes” can be caused by a multitude of reasons? They can be the result of bacteria, viruses, allergies, dry eyes or old contact lenses, to name a few. Only eye doctors, with proper eye examination instruments, have the ability to properly diagnose these potentially complex diseases. Our doctors will be able to prescribe the appropriate medications based on accurate assessment. For your convenience, our staff can normally work you into our schedule the same day to be seen.
Conjunctivitis Q & A
What is conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is inflammation or swelling of the conjunctiva, which covers the whites of your eyes and the insides of your eyelids. Your eyes to appear pink or red because the blood vessels in your conjunctiva become visible.
The most common type of conjunctivitis is viral conjunctivitis, and that’s usually what people mean when they talk about pink eye. It’s highly contagious and common among children, as well as people who work with children. Bacteria and allergies can also cause conjunctivitis, and bloodshot eyes are sometimes a symptom of a serious eye condition.
Other symptoms of pink eye include:
- Increased tear production
- Sensitivity to light
- Feeling like something’s caught in your eye
- Discharge or crust, usually more severe when you first wake up
- Irritation, itchiness, or burning sensations
Conjunctivitis is usually mild and responds to treatment. It rarely causes vision damage. Still, it’s a good idea to have your optometrist take a look if your eyes are red and irritated.
How is conjunctivitis treated?
Conjunctivitis treatment involves helping you manage your symptoms. At-home care includes:
- Using over-the-counter “artificial tears” eye drops, but not for more than a few days, or your eyes could become more irritated
- Applying a soothing warm compress to the affected eye for a few minutes 3-4 times a day
- Throwing out the contact lenses you wore when you got the infection and wearing glasses while you recover
Treatment at Scarbrough Family Eyecare depends in part on the type of conjunctivitis you have. Bacterial conjunctivitis responds to antibiotics, but if you have viral conjunctivitis, you need to let the virus run its course, like a cold. If you have allergic conjunctivitis, you may need to avoid your triggers or use anti-allergy eye drops.
How can I prevent the spread of conjunctivitis?
Viral conjunctivitis is about as contagious as the common cold, and if your child has pink eye, there’s a good chance your teacher is afraid of it spreading. Generally, a person is no longer contagious if the obvious symptoms, like discharge and irritation, are gone. This usually takes 3-7 days, but your Scarbrough Family Eyecare provider can give you or your child a timeline to return to school, work, or daycare.
It’s understandable that you can’t take that much time off, especially for a mild condition. Thankfully, you and your child can prevent the spread of pink eye with good hygiene. This includes:
- Washing your hands often, especially before and after applying eye drops, ointments, or compresses to the affected eye
- Not touching or rubbing your eyes
- Not sharing towels or washcloths
- Frequently washing your bedding and towels in hot water and detergent
- Not sharing cosmetics, towels, or blankets