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What Is Pink Eye? And What Is Best For Pink Eye Treatment?

It is normal for the white part of your eye (the sclera)  to have a number of tiny red blood vessels at, or near the surface.  It must also be remembered that some people’s eyes are simply more red/pink than others, and there is nothing abnormal about this.  However, if your eye is more pink/red than what is normal for you, then you likely have “pink eye”. Many people have heard the term “pink eye”, especially with school age children. But what exactly is “pink eye”? And if I have it, what is best for pink eye treatment?

What Is Pink Eye?

Pink eye is a common term used to describe inflammation of the clear membrane (conjunctiva) which covers the inside of our eyelids and the white part of the eye (the sclera). Pink eye, is also known by it’s medical name, called conjunctivitis. The conjunctiva contains tiny blood vessels. Because the conjunctiva is clear, it is easy to see the red blood vessels against the white tissue of the sclera. When there is an inflammation within the conjunctival blood vessels, the vessels dilate and become bigger. It is this change in size that creates the appearance or bloodshot eyes, or pink eye.

The Three Different Types Of Pink Eye

There are three different kinds of pink eye.  1) Viral,  2) Bacterial, 3) Allergic.  Each one of these has a little different appearance and symptoms. Different types of pink eye, will also require different medications for pink eye treatment.

  1. Viral:  Watery discharge & mild redness, a foreign body sensation, and sensitivity to light to one or both eyes.
  2. Bacterial: Yellow mucous discharge, sometimes sticky enough to cause your eye lids to stick together, especially when you first wake up in the morning.  Your eyeball may quite red eye, as well.
  3. Allergic:  Itchiness is usually the number one symptom.  There can also be some white mucous discharge.  Both eyes are usually affected, but not always.  You may also experience a stuffy or runny nose.

If I Have Pink Eye, What Is The Best Pink Eye Treatment?

If you feel like you have one of these types of pink eye, there are different types of eye drops for pink eye treatment. Dependant on the type of pink eye which you have, your doctor will prescribe a different medication to treat that type. The prescription drops are intended to help relieve the signs & symptoms that you are experiencing.  If an infection is left untreated, it may sometimes get better on its own; but if it doesn’t want to go away, or if it is getting worse or more uncomfortable, then you need prescription medication for pink eye treatment so help resolve the infection and prevent serious problems like corneal ulcers and serious scarring, and also to stop it from spreading to others.

Although there are a number of over-the-counter eye drops for pink eye treatment that can be found at the pharmacy, they are not as effective as special prescription eye drops.  So your best bet is to visit your optometrist to have a brief check up to confirm which type of “Pink Eye” you have, and then determine which kind of eye drop will work best to bring you back to normal.

Although you can see a regular physician for your pink eye, they are at a disadvantage in not having all the necessary equipment to perform all the tests to properly diagnose the cause of your problem.  Your optometrist has a special bio-microscope to see a magnified view of your eyes to help determine the type of pink eye you may have and also to rule out other serious conditions like iritis or an acute glaucoma attack, both of which can also produce redness in your eyes.

The good news is that Alberta Health Care completely covers the cost of your visit to see your optometrist when you have any redness or problems with your eyes.  Remember, a “White Eye” is a “Happy Eye”.

Article Written By: Dr. Richard Nielson

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