The Dreaded Red Eye
A red eye or conjunctivitis is a common problem. Some red eyes are due to infectious causes. Viral conjunctivitis or pink eye, is very contagious. Infected individuals often have a prominent watery discharge from their eyes. This watery discharge is contagious and the hearty virus can remain on infectious on surfaces for several hours. The eye is often crusted or mattered shut in the morning. While many improve without sequela, some patients can develop inflammatory membranes and hazy corneal infiltrates that can cloud vision and scar the eye.
Dr. Thompson asks his patients who are infected to follow a list of contact precautions to prevent family members and friends from becoming infected. To reduce your risk of an eye infection, Dr. Thompson recommends that you avoid rubbing your eyes. If your eyes are irritated, use artificial tears. If you must touch around your eyes, wash your hands first. If you have a viral conjunctivitis, you should not share towels or pillow cases. Be careful not to touch around your unaffected eye. Half of the folks who get a viral conjunctivitis spread it to their other eye.
Not all red eyes are viral conjunctivitis. A red eye may be due to an iritis, episcleritis, scleritis, pterygia, corneal ulcer, bacterial conjuctivitis, or a more severe eye infection or inflammation. If you are not sure, you should call to schedule an appointment with your local eye care professional. Dr. Thompson and Dr. Niebuhr have special training in the evaluation and management of eye diseases.