“Pink Eye” is probably one of the most misused and misunderstood terms used to describe an eye problem. There are many conditions that have the label “pink eye” associated with them and this article is intended to clear up the “pink eye” confusion.
Where did the term “pink eye” come from?
The word “pink” is actually derived from an ancient term “pincus” which doesn’t have anything to do with the color pink. It actually means “small”. We call our smallest finger our “pinkie finger” and the smallest toe the “pinkie toe” because of the ancient term “pincus”. OK, but you may be wondering abou the connection to the eye? When someone has an eye infection, the eyelids usually swell and the eye is sensitive to air and light. As such, the eye that is infected tends to close down and appears smaller or “pincus”. It’s not called “pincus” for the color of the eye when infected, but because the eye appears smaller as a result of the infection.
What are the causes of pink eye infection?
Conjunctivitis is the most common eye infection. The conjunctiva consists of the inside lining of the eyelids and the network of bloodvessels and clear tissue on the outside of the eyeball. When infected, the conjunctiva may look pink, or even bright red. In some cases, a mucus discharge is present and the eye may be sore and/or light sensitive. In some cases, both eyes are infected. Conjunctivitis causes include the following:
- Bacterial infection. With bacterial infections mucus is usually present and quite often the infection is only in one eye.
- Viral infection. With viral infections, there is usually a watery discharge or tearing, light sensitivity. In most cases, the infection is in both eyes.
- Allergies. Seasonal allergies, or allergic reactions to something you’ve come in contact with can produce “allergic conjunctivitis”. While technically not an infection, the symptoms may be similar, but in most cases the most prominent symptom is itching.
- Other more rare sources of infection include fungal infections and parasitic infections.
What are the treatments for pink eye?
Treatment for conjunctivitis may include antibiotic eye drops for bacterial infections, anti-inflammatory drops for viral infections, and anti-histamine or mast cell stabilizer drops for allergic conjunctivitis.
So you see, infections aren’t always the same, and neither is the treatment. If you’re experiences any of these symptoms, it’s very important to see an optometrist or ophthalmologist for proper diagnosis and treatment.