Alamo Optometry Blog

March 2, 2009


Filed under: Vision Care Tips — Tags: — admin @ 11:28 pm

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

(As appeared in Alamo Today, March 2009, pg. 35)

This is the time of the year when we are all fighting the winter colds and flus. The same bacteria and viruses that cause these illnesses also cause conjunctivitis. It is very common for different family members or co-workers to either have the upper respiratory infection or the conjunctivitis, or both.
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, the thin transparent layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. Conjunctivitis, often called “pink eye,” is a common eye disease, especially in children. It may affect one or both eyes. Some forms of conjunctivitis can be highly contagious and easily spread in schools and at home. While conjunctivitis is usually a minor eye infection, sometimes it can develop into a more serious problem.
Conjunctivitis may be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. It can also occur due to an allergic reaction to irritants in the air like pollen and smoke, chlorine in swimming pools, and ingredients in cosmetics or other products that come in contact with the eyes. Bacterial conjunctivitis is an infection most often caused by staph. or strep. bacteria from your own skin or respiratory system. Infection can also occur by transmittal from insects, physical contact with other people, poor hygiene (touching the eye with unclean hands), or by use of contaminated eye makeup and facial lotions.
Viral conjunctivitis is most commonly caused by contagious viruses associated with the common cold. The primary means of contracting this is through exposure to coughing or sneezing by persons with upper respiratory tract infections. It can also occur as the virus spreads along the body’s own mucous membranes.
Practicing good hygiene is the best way to control the spread of conjunctivitis. Once an infection has been diagnosed, follow these steps:
Don’t touch your eyes with your hands.
Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.
Change your towel and washcloth daily, and don’t share them with others.
Discard eye cosmetics, particularly mascara.
Don’t use anyone else’s eye cosmetics or personal eye-care items.
Follow your eye doctor’s instructions on proper contact lens care.
For allergic conjunctivitis, avoid rubbing your eyes. Instead of warm compresses, use cool compresses to soothe your eyes. Over the counter eye drops are available. Antihistamine eye drops should help to alleviate the symptoms, and lubricating eye drops help to rinse the allergen off of the surface of the eye.
At our office, conjunctivitis can be diagnosed through a focused office visit. Testing, with special emphasis on evaluation of the conjunctiva and surrounding tissues, will include:
Patient history to determine the symptoms the patient is experiencing, when the symptoms began, and the presence of any general health or environmental conditions that may be contributing to the problem.
Visual acuity measurements to determine the extent to which vision may be affected.
Evaluation of the conjunctiva and external eye tissue using an optometric microscope.
Evaluation of the inner structures of the eye to ensure that no other tissues are affected by the condition.

Even though the diagnosis of conjunctivitis is relatively straightforward, the cause of the condition is often more difficult. Depending on the exact signs and symptoms, several different kinds of causes can overlap. In addition, other more serious issues such as a foreign body in the eye or a corneal infection can initially cause some of the symptoms of conjunctivitis, but needs to be treated in a different manner. We are able to diagnose, treat, and manage all forms of conjunctivitis due to our extensive training and equipment that allows us to see very clearly the structures of the eye. We have same-day appointments for any type of emergency visit.

Dr. K. at Alamo Optometry is your hometown eye doctor for outstanding service, vision care, and designer eyewear. He can be reached at 925-820-6622 or visit his office at 3201 Danville Blvd., Suite 165 in Alamo.

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