Advice for our new parents on a very Serious subject.
Allergic Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Conjunctivitis is one of the most common and treatable eye conditions in children and adults. Often called "pink eye," it is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid and helps keep the eyelid and eyeball moist.
Conjunctivitis can be caused by viruses, bacteria, irritating substances (shampoos, dirt, smoke, and especially pool chlorine), sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or allergens (substances that cause allergies). Pink eye caused by bacteria, viruses, or STDs can spread easily from person to person but is not a serious health risk if diagnosed promptly; allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious.
It is important to find out whether your pink eye is caused by allergies or infection, because each condition has different treatments. This section focuses on allergic conjunctivitis.
What Are The Symptoms Of Allergic Conjunctivitis?
Redness in the white of the eye or inner eyelid
Increased amount of tears
Swelling of the eyelid
See your ophthalmologist (a doctor and surgeon who is trained to treat eye conditions) or optometrist (doctor trained to treat eye conditions) or family doctor if you have any of these persistent symptoms.
How Is Allergic Conjunctivitis Treated?
Allergy-associated conjunctivitis should be evaluated by your doctor and an allergist. It may disappear completely, either when the allergy is treated with antihistamines, or when the allergen is removed. Your doctor may recommend you use one or more of the following:
Ocular (topical) decongestants -- these medicines reduce redness by constricting small blood vessels in the eye. These medications are not recommended for long-term use. Using these drops for more than a few days can lead to a worsening of the swelling and redness, which is called a "rebound" effect.
Ocular (topical) antihistamines -- these contain medicine that reduces redness, swelling, and itching by blocking the actions of histamine, the chemical that causes these symptoms of allergy. They are available both over-the-counter and by prescription.
Ocular (topical) steroids -- when other medicines fail, your doctor may prescribe steroid eye drops to relieve the symptoms of conjunctivitis. These must be used with the supervision of your doctor since they can cause elevated pressure inside of the eye, which can lead to vision damage. These drops can also increase the risk of cataracts.
Cromolyn -- this medicine works by preventing specialized cells from releasing histamine. It works best when started before symptoms occur.
Immunotherapy - allergy shots also can be effective for treating allergic conjunctivitis.
What Can I Do To Help Relieve Symptoms?
Remove contact lenses, if you wear them.
Place cold compresses on your eyes.
Try nonprescription "artificial tears," a type of eye drop that may help relieve itching and burning (Note: Other types of eye drops may irritate the eyes and should not be used.) Do not use the same bottle of drops in the other eye if it is not affected.
But the best defense against allergic conjunctivitis is a good offense: try to avoid the triggers for your allergies in the first place.
Don't touch or rub the affected eye(s).
Wash your hands often with soap and warm water.
Wash your bed linens, pillowcases, and towels in hot water and detergent to reduce allergens
Avoid wearing eye makeup.
Don't share eye makeup with anyone else.
Never wear another person's contact lens.
Wear glasses instead of contact lenses to reduce irritation.
Wash your hands after applying the eye drops or ointment to your eye or your child's eye.
Do not use eye drops that were used for an infected eye in a noninfected one.