Pink Eye (Epidemic Keratoconjunctivitis)
Pink eye is an eye condition that becomes very irritating to the eyes if not treated. This condition requires appropriate treatment to clear it up effectively. Contact Vivid Vision in Fort Saskatchewan for optometry care if you are suffering from the symptoms of pink eye. Here is some information about this ailment to read over so you recognize the signs of this condition, know how to avoid catching it, and find out how our optometrist can help if you do.
What is Pink Eye (Epidemic Keratoconjunctivitis-EKC)?
Pink eye is an inflammation of the conjunctiva and sometimes of the cornea caused by a virus (adenovirus). Pink eye is an acute infection of the eye, and is extremely contagious. It can last as long as a month.
How is pink eye spread?
Pink eye occurs mostly in places of close human contact, such as schools, hospitals and office environments. It can be transmitted indirectly through touch contact with items contaminated with eye secretions, in water, or even as an aerosol. However the most common way it develops is by direct contact with tears or other fluids from infected eyes.
What are the symptoms of pink eye?
People with pink eye usually complain of a sudden onset of eye redness, irritation, soreness, light sensitivity and excessive tearing. Some people with the infection say that it feels like a piece of sand or foreign body is in the eye. This irritation can be due to punctate keratitis, a condition in which vision becomes blurred due to divots or irregularities forming on the surface of the cornea. Both the eye and eyelid can become swollen. The viral infection usually involves one eye first, and then eventually infects the other eye. After the infection subsides, sub-epithelial infiltrates may form, which are grey to white cloudy spots that form in the cornea as a result of an immune reaction to the virus. People with pink eye may have significantly blurred vision for several days.
How long am I infectious?
Persons with this infection can spread the virus to others for up to 14 days after the onset of infection in the second eye.
Do I have to stay home from work?
Yes. Particularly in situations where you work with others (e.g. health care, daycare, personal services, emergency services). Persons with this type of eye infection must be off work until 14 days after the onset of infection in the second eye.
How is it treated?
This is a viral infection, and antibiotics are not effective in treating pink eye. Treatment focuses on alleviating unwanted symptoms. In mild cases, doctors prescribe cold compresses, artificial tears and vasoconstrictors. In more severe cases, steroid eye drops are prescribed and are tapered over 2 to 4 weeks or longer.
How can I avoid giving it to my family and friends?
You and your household members must always use proper hand hygiene- 15 second hand wash with soap and water- after touching self and before touching someone else. Use a tissue or paper towel to turn off sink taps. This will help you to avoid re-contaminating yourself.
If you do not have access to handwashing facilities, frequent use of alcohol handrinse (hand sanitizer) may be effective to prevent spread. Many drug stores carry this product. Choose one that has over 60% alcohol content.
Persons with pink eye and their household members must avoid touching their face and eyes.
Do not share eye makeup or eye drops.
Do not share towels, face cloths, pillows, glasses, goggles, or any other items that might cone into direct contact with the eyes of another individual.
The virus lives in surfaces of doorknobs and telephones, therefore it is very important to keep household surfaces clean.