~ As Appeared in the November 2017 Issue of North Shore News ~
A: Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is remarkably common in Hawai‘i.
It is caused by inflammation in the conjunctiva, the white part of the eye. Pink eye can be treated at home. However, see a doctor if there is decrease in vision, sensitivity to light, inability to open eyes due to the sensation of something being in it, or severe headache with nausea.
Pink eye is either infectious or non-infectious. Infectious pink eye spreads easily. To prevent spread or re-infection, wash your hands before and after touching your face and after using drops. Don’t use eye makeup while infected and discard old eye makeup. Don’t share towels, linens, pillows or handkerchiefs. Use clean linens, towels and washcloths daily.
If you wear contacts and get pink eye of either kind, stop using your lenses for at least 24 hours after the redness and discharge resolve. Infectious pink eye is caused by bacteria or a virus. Both bacterial and viral conjunctivitis produce a lot of discharge, usually along the eyelashes and eye corners, that continues throughout the day. Viral conjunctivitis has a more watery or tear-like discharge. Both can lead to stuck eyes in the morning. Antibiotic eye drops may help it heal more quickly.
You should start feeling better within one to two days of treatment. For non-infectious conjunctivitis, allergies are a common cause. We treat both viral and allergic conjunctivitis by lessening the symptoms. A saline solution or antihistamine eye drops and warm compresses are usually all you will need. We want to hear from you! Please keep the questions coming at firstname.lastname@example.org