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The Best 'Pink Eye' Remedies

On Monday mornings, our office is always busy with people who developed "pink eye" over the weekend. For some reason, these things always seem to break out on a Friday night after your doctor has closed for the weekend, the morning of your daughter's wedding or the day before the 14-day European vacation you have been looking forward to for 2 years. While I can probably name over a dozen or so things that could cause an eye to turn red, pink eye (also known as conjunctivitis) would include other symptoms such as itching, excessive tearing, morning crustiness, light sensitivity and/or pain. The 3 most common types of pink eye are: bacterial, viral and allergic. Bacterial Conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria infecting the eye. It is extremely contagious. Caution should be used to help prevent spreading to your other eye or to other people by keeping your hands clean and away from the infected eye. You should also be careful to not share anything that may come in contact with the infected eye, such as wash cloths, pillows, sunglasses, make-up, etc. Bacterial conjunctivitis is almost always accompanied by a yellowish, sticky discharge, requiring a doctor visit to get a prescription for antibiotic eyedrops. Viral Conjunctivitis is just that, a virus in your eye. As with any other type of virus in your body, antibiotics will not help. This type of pink eye is also contagious and usually clears up on it's own depending on the severity of the virus. Severe viral conjunctivitis could include symptoms such as a white discharge, pain, swelling and even blurred vision. Over-the-counter lubricating eye drops and ice packs or cold compresses can help keep you comfortable until the virus runs its course. Although, if symptoms do not seem to be getting better it is always good to see your ophthalmologitst. Allergic Conjunctivitis is one of the most common causes of redness and is usually accompanied by itching, tearing and eyelid swelling. This type of conjunctivitis is not contagious, so prescription antibiotic drops will not work although prescriptive allergy drops may give you some relief. Over-the-counter lubricating or allergy drops, cold compresses and even oral allergy medication can help reduce the symptoms and prevent you from getting worse. These 3 type of conjunctivitis are often misdiagnosed by Emergency Room Doctors, Primary Care Physicians and the staff at Urgent Care Facilities. I always tell my patients who have seen someone other than an Ophthalmologist and are not getting better, they really should come in just to ensure the proper diagnosis.* Mary Sweetman, C.O.A. Certified Ophthalmic Assistant

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