Conjunctivitis: What to know about pink eye

Bob Costas looked a little better pre-Sochi. Credit: Getty Images
Bob Costas looked healthier pre-Sochi.
Credit: Getty Images

The question: “My eye was red, itchy, and glued shut this morning. Do I have pink eye?”

Redness and irritation in one or both eyes is generally a symptom of conjunctivitis, sometimes known as “pink eye.” Bob Costas had a particularly bad case while in Sochi for the Olympics.

The conjunctiva is the thin mucous membrane lining over the white portion of the eye ball (sclera) and the inner aspect of the eyelids. Inflammation of this normally clear tissue results in redness, swelling and increased secretion of mucous, and can be caused by a number of conditions:

A virus

Any variety of cold viruses can cause a red, mucous-filled eye. In the same way that the offending virus may cause nasal congestion, a sore throat and/or cough, the conjunctiva becomes irritated and makes your eye congested as well. If you have cold symptoms accompanying your pink eye then it is almost certainly due to a virus and will resolve without any antibiotic drops.

Bacteria

A bacterial eye infection is a more serious matter and is often preceded by overuse of contact lenses, sometimes leading to a corneal ulceration. There is often pain and any discharge may be thicker and gray-yellow in color. This requires a prescription for antibiotic drops and immediate attention from an eye doctor.

Allergies

Seasonal or environmental allergies to pollen, pet dander, dust mites or other allergens are the most common cause of conjunctivitis, and often accompanies typical allergic symptoms such as a stuffy nose, scratchy throat or sneezing. Over-the-counter antihistamine tablets and drops may effectively reduce or relieve these symptoms, which are usually chronic and recurrent in nature.

Chemicals

Any substance that splashes or is accidentally rubbed into the eyes may cause irritation and conjunctivitis. This may include hand sanitizer residue or moisturizing hand creams that inadvertently rub off of your fingers into your eyes. Washing out any known or suspected substances is the first line of treatment. Any persistent irritation after a known exposure, or involvement of a caustic substance (acid, etc.) should be cared for as soon as possible in a hospital ER or ophthalmologist’s office.

Dry eyes

As we age, the eyes often secrete fewer tears that may result in redness due to drying of the conjunctiva. There are a number of artificial tears and lubricating drops for daily use to prevent development of redness from dry eyes.
Treat it

General care for any source of pink eye may include warm water to wash away any mucous or crusting, and cool compresses to relieve itching or burning. Over-the-counter drops may be helpful in getting relief from allergies or chemical conjunctivitis, but are of no value in treating infections.

The same viruses that cause colds are similarly contagious by contact or via respiratory inhalation and can spread pink eye from person to person. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, don’t shakes hands and wipe down surfaces with a disinfectant. As long as you have symptoms, you are likely contagious.

See an ophthalmologist
Regardless of the source of your pink eye, always seek immediate attention from an ophthalmologist if you have eye pain, a foreign body sensation or if your vision is compromised.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Drive charged in fatal hit and run, police…

The NYPD has arrested a man they say is responsible for a fatal hit and run in Manhattan last weekend. Doohee Cho, 33, was hit…

Local

Mayor de Blasio raises minimum wage for some…

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order Tuesday morning that will raise the minimum wage for workers employed by private companies that receive more…

National

3 myths about the working poor

Linda Tirado works to debunk some common stereotypes about the working poor in her new book, "Hand to Mouth."

Money

Lawsuit funding advances: friend or foe?

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Many plaintiffs awaiting resolution of their lawsuit or legal claim often find themselves in a tricky financial…

Going Out

Which NYC restaurant lost its three-star Michelin rating?

A record 73 restaurants in New York City collected coveted Michelin stars on Tuesday as a mix of trendy spots and fine-dining stalwarts underscored the…

Entertainment

Interview: Metro chats with filmmaker Meir Kalmanson, man…

A New York filmmaker hands out smiles to its residents.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 30: 'Selfie,' 'Utopia'…

'Selfie' This modern day take on the "My Fair Lady" story stars John Cho in the Henry Higgins role. Perhaps instead of "the rain in…

Music

Can't-miss weekend events continue to attract the masses

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Earlier this summer, the Firefly Music Festival drew crowds of tens of thousands of people to Dover, Delaware.…

MLB

Mets 2014 report card

The Mets wrapped up their eight straight season without a playoff appearance last weekend. Needless to say, they fell a bit short of general manager…

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

Style

Products that support breast cancer awareness and research

Asics GT-1000, $100 Asics’ third pink collection in collaboration with Christina Applegate’s Right Action for Women includes this pink-accented version of its best-selling GT-1000 3…

Wellbeing

Dr. Marisa Weiss: Where we stand on breast…

As an oncologist and a survivor herself, Dr. Marisa Weiss knows the urgency felt by those diagnosed with breast cancer. Genetic testing has accelerated the…

Wellbeing

Bees' stingers hold new hope for cancer cure

A promising new lead in the search for a cancer cure has turned up in a place that most people naturally avoid. A team from…

Home

Emily Henderson on small space design

Design expert Emily Henderson shows us how to upgrade our cramped quarters.