Aucello EyeCare Center: What Is “Red Eye” or “Pink Eye”?
Red eye or pink eye is a common and treatable eye condition that affects three million people (usually children) in the U.S. every year. Also called conjunctivitis, the condition is characterized by an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the transparent mucous membrane that protects the inner eyelid and the white part of the eye.
Red eye can affect one or both eyes at the same time. It is usually a minor infection, but complications can develop in patients with weakened immune systems or pre-existing eye conditions.
What are Its Causes?
Red eye can result from any of the following causes:
- Physical or chemical irritants – contact lenses, chemical fumes, cosmetics, chlorine in pools, etc.
- Allergens – pollen, mold spores, animal dander, dust, etc.
- Viruses – varicella-zoster virus, poxvirus, HIV, etc.
- Bacteria – Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, different Chlamydia species, etc.
What are Its Symptoms?
You may be suffering from red eye if you are experiencing any of these symptoms in one or both eyes:
- Itching and irritation
- A gritty feeling
- Redness and swelling
- Increased tearing and/or discharge
- Increased sensitivity to light
Allergic conjunctivitis may also be accompanied by frequent sneezing and/or a nasal discharge.
Because red eye can lead to complications or be highly contagious, it’s a good idea to visit an eye doctor as soon as you notice these symptoms.
How is It Diagnosed and Treated?
Diagnosis is done through a comprehensive eye exam with a special focus on the conjunctiva and surrounding tissues. After a patient history check, the doctor may perform visual acuity measurements and evaluations of the conjunctiva, external eye tissue, and the inner structures of the eye.
In some cases, cultures or smears of conjunctival tissue may be taken for supplemental testing.
Most cases of red eye resolve themselves within two weeks, but treatment may be given to increase comfort, reduce inflammation, and/or prevent the spread of infection. Treatment may involve:
- Conjunctivitis from irritation – flushing with saline
- Allergic conjunctivitis – antihistamines, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
- Viral conjunctivitis – none
- Bacterial conjunctivitis – antibiotic eye drops or ointments
Artificial tears and cold compresses are usually recommended for general relief. In more severe cases of inflammation, ophthalmic steroids may be prescribed.
Request an Appointment Today!
Schedule your next eye exam by calling 860-644-4362 today. You can also submit an appointment request through our new patient form.
Aucello EyeCare Center is conveniently located in South Windsor and Newington. Our offices are open Mondays to Fridays, plus evening and weekend hours by appointment.