Conjunctivitis is the medical term that is used to describe any infection or inflammation of the clear membrane that lines the white part of the eye (known as the sclera). This area has many small blood vessels and when the eye is inflammed this causes these vessels to dilate. This increases the redness of the visible part of the white of the eye and causes what is commonly called “pink eye”. Conjunctivitis or “pink eye” can be due to many different causes. The cause could be bacterial, viral, allergic, toxic, environmental, due to dryness, due to overwear of contact lenses, due to spending too much time in the sun without sun protection and on and on. The cause could also be due internal problems within the eye…..such as iritis and glaucoma. Eye doctors must take a complete history and do a thorough evaluation to determine the exact cause of the conjunctivitis. The treatment varies depending upon the exact cause. Sometimes the treatment is very simple and straight forward and sometimes it is very complicated.
The first thing a patient should do when their eyes are red and uncomfortable is to contact their eye doctor. Eye doctors (ophthalmologists and optometrists) have specialized equipment that allows them to accurately diagnose and treat these types of conditions. It is best for the patient to initially treat the redness of the eyes as if they are contagious until proven otherwise. This means to not touch your eyes, use your own washcloth and towels, stop using eye makeup when applicable and to wash your hands frequently and use a hand sanitizer. If a patient is contagious the disease can easily be spread by touching someone else on their hands and then having that person rub their eyes.
Your eye doctor will decide upon the most appropriate form of treatment and you should be well on your way to recovery. If you have any questions, please call the office at 310 208-3011 to schedule a consultation.