Have you ever woken up to find your eyes red and swollen? It could be a simple irritation, but if your eyes don’t return to normal within a couple of hours, or if those symptoms are accompanied by pain, you could have pink eye. While you may think this condition only affects children, I can attest - grown-ups are not immune. So how can you avoid pink eye? And if you do happen to contract it, how can you treat it? Well, let’s take a closer look . . .
Have you ever woken up to find your eyes red and swollen? It could be a simple irritation, but if your eyes don’t return to normal within a couple of hours, or if those symptoms are accompanied by pain, you could have pink eye.
Yikes - pink eye? Silly rabbit, pink eye is for kids!
Not quite. I can attest – grown-ups are not immune to this often painful and very contagious condition.
So how can you avoid pink eye? And if you do happen to contract it, how can you treat it? Well, let’s take a closer look . . .
Pink Eye Basics
Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, occurs when the membrane over the whites of the eyes and inside the eyelid (the conjunctiva) becomes infected and inflamed. It can be caused by either a viral or bacterial infection.
Viral pink eye is the most common, with symptoms that include red eyes, watery discharge, sensitivity to light, swollen eyelids and other non-eye, cold-like symptoms, like a runny nose. In bacterial pink eye, the eyes can also be swollen, but there is generally more pain and the discharge, usually yellow or green, collects when the person is sleeping and often results in a feeling that the eyes are sealed shut when they awake (a warm, damp washcloth will remove the hardened residue).
Who is at risk?
As mentioned above, anyone of any age can catch pink eye, but it is most common among school-age children, who tend to pass the infection around to one another as their hands come into contact with shared toys and school supplies. Frequent hand washing and instructing children to avoid wiping their eyes with their hands can help prevent an outbreak.
How can you treat pink eye?
Pink eye tends to go away on its own within a few days, but antibiotic drops and over-the-counter eye drops and ointments can help alleviate symptoms. Be careful not to share eye medications with others and don’t let the droppers come into contact with your eyes, as you could re-infect yourself at a later date.
Foods and supplements rich in antioxidants, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and B-complex vitamins can help the body fight off bacterial and viral pink eye and speed the duration of the infection. Zinc supplements can improve the healing process and improve absorption of Vitamin A.
If your symptoms worsen or fail to clear up in a few weeks, consult your ophthalmologist.
So now you know - just because you’re all grown up doesn’t mean you can’t get pink eye! By taking proper precautions, however, you can reduce your chances of contracting it.