What is the meaning of pink eye? Explore more on the meaning, causes and symptoms of pink eye in adults, children and babies. You will also learn more on how it is spread from one person to the other.
What Is Pink Eye – Meaning
Pink eye is also known as conjunctivitis, it is either an infection or an inflammation of the conjunctiva. Conjunctiva is a thin and transparent membrane that covers the white part of your eyeball, it also forms a lining on the eye lids. It contains small blood vessels that becomes reddish or pink when the eye is inflamed and therefore making the white part of your eye to change the color.
This condition commonly results from bacterial or viral infections and allergic reactions from chemicals and other substances that may come in contact with your eye. Conjunctivitis may affect one eye but the infection can also affect both eyes if not controlled on time.
It may cause irritation of the eye especially during the bright light from the sun and other sources. Although the eye may become inflamed, but this condition does not affect your vision. Rarely does it cause problems of the eye sight. The affected eyes lids may shut or stuck together especially in the morning after waking up due to discharge from the eye.
Conjunctivitis is highly contagious especially when it is caused by a bacterial or viral infection. It can easily be transmitted to the other eye or to other people through direct contact with the fluids from the affected eye. Early diagnosis and treatment is recommended on how to get rid of pink eye fast.
This condition may heal on its own after some time without serious health risk. You may use eye drops to alleviate the irritations and other symptoms. It also fastens the healing process especially when the infection is caused by a bacteria according to Wikipedia.
What Causes Pink Eye
Pink eye results from the following:
- Allergic reactions
- Viral infections
- Bacterial infections
- Chemical splashes into the eyes
- Eye contacts with foreign objects
Allergic conjunctivitis results from various allergens such as smoke, pollen grains, cosmetics, perfumes and dust mites. Balsam of Peru found in different drinks for flavor, medicine for healing and in toiletries for fragrance can also cause this condition.
When you are exposed to the above allergens, your body responds by producing an antibody known as immunoglobulin. The immunoglobulin will therefore trigger the mast cell found in the conjunctiva to release an inflammatory substance such as histamine. Your body will therefore respond to histamine by showing the various symptoms of pink eye like redness, irritations and tearing. In most cases, the allergic conjunctivitis normally affects both eyes.
Viral conjunctivitis usually affects one eye. The infection can also spread to the other eye if not controlled. It is usually accompanied with other symptoms of a common cold such as red eyes, running nose and sore throats and other problems of respiratory system.
The viral infection usually results to production of clear watery mucous discharge from the eyes for 7 to 14 days of infection. The viral type is highly contagious and can easily spread to un- infected individuals through direct contact with the discharge, sharing of handkerchiefs and towels. Avoid spreading this infection by washing your hands and handkerchiefs using warm salt water.
Like a viral infection, this type can also affect one or both the eyes. The bacterial conjunctivitis normally produces thicker discharge from the eye that is yellow or green in color as compared to a viral infection. It is common among children than adults.
It is also contagious and can easily be spread though body contact with the discharge and other secretions from the eyes. The bacteria that is responsible for this infection is known as staphylococci and streptococci. Other bacteria such as chlamydia trachomatis can cause this condition but the symptoms of pink eye may not be that much severe.
Chemicals and foreign objects
Irritations from chemical splash and eye contact with foreign objects may also cause conjunctivitis. Cleaning of the eye with water to get rid of such chemicals and objects may cause irritations, dilation of blood vessels and tearing of the eye. This condition normally clears up faster within 2 days unlike to infections that may take longer time to clear up according to Mayoclinic.
There are also other risk factors that may cause the outbreak of this condition. The risk factors depend on the type of conjunctivitis. They include the following:
- Exposure to the viral or bacterial that causes conjunctivitis.
- Exposure to allergens that may cause allergic reactions to the eye.
- Exposure to chemicals and other foreign objects that may damage the eye.
- The use of contact lenses.
Symptoms of Pink Eye – Adults
The symptoms below may affect one or both eyes. They are common to all forms of conjunctivitis.
- Swelling of the conjunctiva
You may also experience more symptoms depending with the cause of this condition. They vary depending with the cause. The viral conjunctivitis is accompanied with other symptoms on the upper respiratory system. Therefore you are likely to experience more signs including sore throat, common cold and excessive inflammation of the eyes.
Bacterial conjunctivitis results to redness, thick discharge that may cause crusting which prevents the eye lids from opening in the morning and swelling of the eyelid. The bacterial infection may start by affecting one eye. If this condition is not controlled on time, it spreads to the other eye after 3 to 5 days.
Allergic conjunctivitis that is caused from exposure to allergens results to vasodilation of small blood vessels in the conjunctiva, tearing of the eyes, itching and swelling of the mucus membrane of the eye. The body reaction to allergens triggers the mast cells to produce histamine and other substances that results to the above symptoms.
Chemicals and foreign objects that comes in contact with the eye may also cause excessive irritation and lacrimation, pain, redness and swelling of the eye. Alkali chemicals are very hash than acidic substances when they come into contact with the eyes. Pink eye treatment such as local anesthetic eye drops can be used to alleviate the inflammation and swelling of the affected aye.
If you start experiencing the symptoms of pink eye, make an appointment with your optician right away. This infection is highly contagious, early treatment is important to prevent spreading the infection to other individuals who are around you.
Pink Eye Symptoms in Children and Babies
Children and babies can also get pink eye since it is highly contagious. When you are infected with this condition, you can easily transmit it to your child or baby especially when it is viral or bacterial conjunctivitis. Chemicals and other foreign object can splash or enter the eye of your kid to cause the symptoms of this infection.
Newborn babies from a mother who has an STI can easily get pink eye infection. During the delivery process, the virus or bacteria can easily be transmitted from the infected mother to the newborn and hence causing this condition according to kids’ health.
To prevent this from happening, such newborn are given antibiotic ointments or some eye drops right away after delivery. Though this treatment can also lead to chemical conjunctivitis that clears on its own after 2-5 days. The mother can also be treated before delivery to prevent the spread of this infection to the expected newborn.
Signs of pink eye in baby varies from one to another depending with the cause. Most of the common symptoms includes the following:
- Redness of the eye. The blood vessels in the conjunctiva dilates making the eye to appear pink or reddish in color. The inner eye lids may also change the color to reddish.
- Discomfort of the eye that causes tearing. Your kid may feel there is a foreign object in the eye. This may cause the eye to water.
- Swelling of the eye. The thin membrane that covers the white part of the eye may swell due to dilation of the blood vessels. The eyelid may also swell up.
- Discharge from the eye. A clear, yellowish or greenish secretions may come out of the infected eye especially when this condition is caused by a virus or bacteria. It may form crusting that prevents the eyelids from opening especially in the morning.
- Sensitivity of the eye. The affected eye becomes sensitive especially to bright lights.
How Is Pink Eye Spread
Is pink eye contagious? This is the most question that people ask themselves when they hear about this condition. The answer is yes. Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are highly contagious. It can easily spread through direct body contact with the secretion from the affected eyes, sharing or objects like handkerchiefs and towels with infected person and through sneezing and coughing.
Allergic and chemical conjunctivitis that results from various allergens such as pollen grains, dust mites, perfumes and chemical splash into the eye are not contagious. After getting this infection, you may experience some symptoms of pink eye that goes away on its own with little or no treatment.
In case of a viral or bacterial pink eye infection, stay away from your friends and relatives to avoid spreading the infection to them. Wash your hand thoroughly using antibacterial soap. Use warm salt water to wash the handkerchiefs and towels to kill the virus.
How do you get pink eye?
You are likely to get pink eye under the following circumstances:
- When you come in direct contact with the virus and bacteria that causes pink eye. This can happen when you come in contact with secretions from the eyes of a person with active conjunctivitis.
- Poor hand washing and sharing of handkerchiefs and towels with a person who has pink eyes.
- From the mother with an STI to her new born baby. The mother may infect her newborn with the bacteria or virus during delivery.
- Chemical splash into the eyes. Acidic and alkaline chemicals may cause inflammation and irritations that may cause pink eye.
- Allergic reactions of the body to different allergens may also result to pink eyes. The body reacts by releasing histamine that cause the inflammation of the eyes.
- Foreign objects in the eye like sand particles can also result to conjunctivitis. Such objects causes the various symptoms of pink eye such as tearing, redness and swelling of the eye.
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