Pink Eye: What Is It, and When Is It Urgent?
June 4, 2018
Pink eye is one of those things that everyone has a story about. An incredibly common infection, it isn’t nearly as big of a deal as it feels like it is when you have it. Let’s take a look at what pink eye is, and when it’s worth seeking urgent care for.
Pink Eye: What is It, and When is It Urgent?
Pink eye is one of the most common urgent care problems, without a doubt. Otherwise known as conjunctivitis, pink eye is a relatively small infection, but one that seems to get everywhere. If you wear contacts, you likely know just how persistent pink eye can be. And anyone who has dealt with it knows how terrible it can feel — but also that it isn’t a big deal when all is said and done. Pink eye isn’t likely to kill anyone, but that doesn’t mean it’s fun.
Luckily, pink eye is also pretty easy to treat. In fact, it’s one of the many things that we can treat over video call through Rapid Med On Demand. Doctors have been treating pink eye the same way for decades, and that treatment is very effective.
What Is Pink Eye?
Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is an inflammation of the clear tissue that lies over the white part of your eye. This tissue is known as the conjunctiva, which is where the scientific name comes from. Pink eye can have a handful of causes, though the most common or viruses and bacteria. When either gets in your eye, it can cause irritation and inflammation. Similarly, conjunctivitis might be a result of allergies or other irritants. Shampoo, smoke, and eye drops can all cause pink eye. You might also see pink eye pop up as a reaction to fungi or parasites, though this is rare.
Put simply, pink eye is inflammation caused by your eyes wanting something to get out of them.
It’s incredibly common in schools, daycares, and offices, where it’s easily spread. This can be avoided by good hygiene, though. If you are worried about pink eye, it’s generally best to not touch your eyes. This is why people who wear contacts are so susceptible: if the virus or bacteria gets in your contact case, you’ll find the inflammation very persistent.
Common symptoms of pink eye are redness in the whites of the eye, tearing up, and swollen eyeballs. You’re also likely to feel some sort of itchiness or burning of the eyeball, though it’s obviously important that you don’t give in. A person with pink eye might also be more sensitive to light and find their vision blurred. In extreme cases, the eyes might secrete a yellow discharge. If a person’s eyes could be described as “gross,” pink eye is likely the cause.
How Is Pink Eye Treated?
Treatment of pink eye is very simple: a doctor looks to get rid of the cause and relieve symptoms.
Viral pink eye can be seen as a common cold that is manifesting in your eyeballs. There isn’t much that can be done other than to wait for the virus to run its course. In these cases, the doctor might prescribe eye drops that help with any itchiness or redness, but you’ll find yourself waiting 4 to 7 days before you’re back to normal.
Bacterial pink eye is more similar to strep throat. A doctor will prescribe you antibiotics, often in the form of eye drops, but occasionally ointments or pills. You’ll need to apply these for 3 days to a week, but symptoms should clear up well before that.
Allergenic pink eye is treated like an allergic reaction. The pink eye symptoms will go away with the allergies, so oral or eyedrop antihistamines will quickly rid you of symptoms. Pink eye caused by irritants like smoke or shampoo can be treated by washing your eyes with water for about 5 minutes, after which symptoms will go away in roughly 4 hours.
When Is Pink Eye Urgent?
So, when is pink eye urgent?
Well, as you can see, it’s never an emergency. Other issues that are more pressing might be mistaken for pink eye, but you will generally know. Conjunctivitis, though, will never cause lasting damage. You might also notice that any treatment for pink eye can be done at home with the right prescription. This is why we can treat it with On Demand — as long as you have the right tools, you can do all the physical work yourself.
Pink eye is frequently urgent, though. It’s a tough issue to deal with, so seeking treatment early is always nice. This is the perfect example of an urgent care problem. Your primary care physician could handle it, but urgent care can take care of it much quicker. Pink eye isn’t fun, but it isn’t the end of the world.