Pink Eye (cont.)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Pink eye facts
- What is "pink eye"?
- What infections cause pink eye, what are infectious pink eye symptoms, and how are they treated?
- What noninfectious conditions cause pink eye, what are noninfectious pink eye symptoms, and how are they treated?
- What are home treatments and care for pink eye?
- How can I prevent the spread of pink eye?
- Pictures of Pink Eye - Slideshow
- Pictures of Eye Diseases - Slideshow
- Pictures of Cataracts - Slideshow
- Find a local Eye Doctor in your town
What noninfectious conditions cause pink eye, what are noninfectious pink eye symptoms, and how are they treated?
Allergic pink eye
Allergic pink eye symptoms and signs are usually accompanied by intense itching, tearing, and swelling of the eye membranes. Pain is minimal or absent. Frequent causes include seasonal pollens, animal dander, and dust. It is frequently seasonal and accompanied by other typical allergy symptoms such as sneezing, itchy nose, or scratchy throat. Cold, moist washcloths applied to the eyes and over-the-counter decongestant eyedrops can provide relief. Avoiding exposure to the allergen particle that leads to the allergic reaction is most helpful. Your doctor can prescribe stronger medications if these home remedies are not adequate.
Chemical pink eye
Chemical pink eye can result when any irritating substance enters the eyes. Common offending irritants are
- household cleaners,
- sprays of any kind,
- foreign objects in the eye,
- industrial pollutants.
Prompt, thorough washing of the eyes with very large amounts of water is very important if an irritating substance enters the eye. Your doctor or your local poison-control center should be contacted at once, even if you think the irritant or chemical is safe, as some of the most common household products like bleach and furniture polish can be very damaging.
Persistent pink eye (conjunctivitis) can be a sign of an underlying illness in the body. Most often these are rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, reactive arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Conjunctivitis is also seen in Kawasaki's disease (a rare disease associated with fever in infants and young children) and certain inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
Bright redness of the whites of the eyes can also occur when the tiny blood vessels covering the whites of the eyes rupture from trauma or changes in pressure within the head (for example, after forceful laughing or vomiting, when diving under water, or even bending upside down). While it is similar, this condition is called subconjunctival hemorrhage, and while it can appear frightening, it is generally harmless. This condition is different from the inflammation of the conjunctiva seen with pink eye. It causes a local area of the white portion of the eye (the sclera) to become brilliantly reddened. It does not typically involve the colored portion of the eye (the iris) and does not affect vision.
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