Conjunctivitis 101: Understanding Pink Eye

The conjunctiva is a superficial layer on the outside of the eye that covers the sclera, “the white part,” of the eye. It extends about halfway back around the eye, and then folds forward to form the inner covering of the upper and lower eyelid. In other words, it covers all surfaces of the eye and the eye socket that can come into contact with any external element. When the conjunctiva becomes inflamed or infected, it is known as conjunctivitis, or, because of its color, pink eye. Magruder Laser Vision knows many of our patients suffer from some form of conjunctivitis, so your Orlando ophthalmologists want to share information about this disorder in order to keep our patients informed.

  • Conjunctivitis can be caused by varying different viruses, bacteria, irritants, or allergens. Simple household irritants such as shampoo, dust, or the chlorine from your pool can irritate the eye’s sensitive conjunctiva.
  • If conjunctivitis is caused by a virus or bacteria, it can easily spread from one individual to another. If your eyes are red or irritated, it’s best to wash your hands frequently and to refrain from rubbing your eyes.
  • While conjunctivitis is irritating and sometimes contagious, it does not typically threaten your overall vision.
  • Symptoms of conjunctivitis may include redness, swollen eyes, increased tear production, discharge, blurred vision, and/or photophobia, otherwise known as light sensitivity.
  • If you believe you may be suffering from bacterial conjunctivitis, it’s imperative that you contact your Orlando ophthalmologist as quickly as possible considering this type of conjunctivitis requires antibiotics and medical treatment in order for your eyes to fully recover.
  • Non-bacterial conjunctivitis generally only needs time in order to heal. Viral conjunctivitis is extremely contagious but will recover on its own in approximately 7-14 days. It’s important to avoid contact with others, to wash your hands frequently, to refrain from rubbing your eyes or wearing makeup, and to throw away your contact lens since the virus is easily passed from eye to contact. If you develop blurred vision, contact your Orlando ophthalmologist at Magruder Laser Vision, in rare cases, these viruses can lead to a damaged cornea.
  • If your conjunctivitis began while you were mowing the lawn or cleaning your house, it may be due to chemicals or irritants. If this occurred at your workplace, ask for the nearest eyewash station. It may be possible, for minor dust or debris, to irrigate the eye with a safe saline-type of a solution made for the eye. But it is always safest to seek the care of an eye care professional for any foreign body or projectile that comes in contact with the eye.

Conjunctivitis should be treated with care. Be sure not to touch your infected eye since bacterial or viral conjunctivitis can easily pass from one eye to the other. Be sure to wash your hands frequently, and clean bed linens, towels, and clothing in hot water and detergent. If someone else in your household has conjunctivitis, use proper hygiene and do not share kitchen utensils, glassware, or linens with that person. Unless you are positive your conjunctivitis is not bacterial in nature, contact your Orlando ophthalmologist at Magruder Laser Vision at 407-843-5665.