Pink eye symptoms are highlighted by the characteristic pink coloration of the affected eye. Technically termed conjunctivitis, pink eye is generally a reversible condition caused by the infection of the eye by viruses, bacteria, or fungi. Less commonly, irritation with chemicals, allergens, or other factors can cause conjunctivitis and be termed ‘pink eye’.
Conjunctiva is the outermost layer of the eye. It also reflects back onto the inner layer of the eyelid. When inflamed the tissue becomes pink or red and gives rise to the term ‘pink eye’.
More severe forms of conjunctivitis are typically caused by infections with bacteria responsible for causing the sexually transmitted diseases gonorrhea and chlamydia. Severe infections may scar the conjunctivia of the eye causing vision problems.
Infections typically last from 7 days to 3 weeks. Viral and bacterial infections are highly contagious. Vision abnormalities may persist for several months before resolving completely.
Pink eye symptoms:
- eye irritation and discomfort
- pinkish-red coloration of the eye
- watering of the eye
- sensitivity to bright light
- itchiness of the eye
- watery or white/yellow pus discharge from the eye
- blurred vision caused by pus discharge
- swollen lymph node in front of ear on side of infected eye
- affected eye is swollen shut upon awakening
Diagnosis is typically through examination and observation of symptoms in the eye. Viral conjunctivitis is commonly associated with a viral infection of the respiratory tract. Laboratory analysis of pus secretions from the eye may be used to aid in diagnosis.
Treatment is typically aimed at keeping the eye clean and preventing spread to the other eye or to other individuals. Routine washes of the eye and the use of compresses to ease inflammation are effective in alleviating symptoms. Antibiotics may be administered to help control bacterial conjunctivitis. Antiviral drugs may be used to treat viral conjunctivitis.
Prevention measures (proper hygiene practices) are effective since this is an infectious condition, expecially amongst school populations.