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You wake to the sound of your alarm blaring, but something feels different. Your left eye itches and feels watery, so you head to a mirror and find that your eye is swollen and pink, what now?
You remember you have a presentation meeting today and reach for your contact case. Surely it’s not pink eye, that’s only something kids get right?
Actually, studies show that 36% of pink eye cases are adults, so be sure to keep reading to explore everything you need to know about pink eye and contacts.
What Is Pink Eye?
Between 3-6 million people in the US contact pink eye each year, but what is it? The technical term for pink eye is known as conjunctivitis and according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, there are 3 types of conjunctivitis.
Viral conjunctivitis is the most common type and is highly contagious. Symptoms that occur with this infection include red, burning eyes with a watery discharge.
Bacterial conjunctivitis causes sore red eyes along with white pus that accumulates and becomes sticky. This type of pink eye is also very contagious.
Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious but can take on the form of viral conjunctivitis which causes watery, itchy, and red eyes.
Causes of Pink Eye
Viral And Bacterial conjunctivitis can both be spread by someone who comes into direct contact with the infected person’s bodily fluids, usually through the nose and mouth.
Unlike children, adults understand that sharing personal hygiene items is a big no. However, many women are fond of sharing makeup which may be cause for the reason why in adults, women make up the most cases of conjunctivitis.
Allergic conjunctivitis can occur when there is an allergic reaction to pollen, pets, dander, smoke, or even chlorine. If you are unsure of what may be causing your symptoms, be sure to check with your doctor.
How to Tell if it’s Pink Eye
It is important to note that not all eyes that are red, are due to pink eye. Statistics show that only half of the cases seen are conjunctivitis. Having a cold or flu can sometimes cause similar symptoms or as mentioned above, allergies.
Probably the most common mistaken identity for pink eye is a stye, a bacterial infection that forms on the lining of the eyelid.
One key difference between pink eye vs stye is the painful red bump that forms along the edge. This bump is not something you will see with pink eye so make sure you are paying attention to any symptoms.
Are Pink Eye and Contacts Safe?
Pink eye and contacts go together as much as peanut butter and bacon, sorry Elvis. Wearing contact lenses with pink eye is not something that is ever recommended. Not only could you risk spreading pink eye, but you could also risk reinfection.
It is bad enough we touch our faces around 23 times an hour, so if you have pink eye and are considering wearing contacts, DON’T. Make sure to throw out any lenses you touched since showing symptoms, along with all cases.
Pink eye can last several days so be sure to not wear contacts again until you are symptom-free for 24-48 hours. Be sure to follow up with your provider and always wash your hands before touching your eyes and wearing contact lenses.
Pink Eye Treatment and the Overuse of Antibiotics
With any virus or infection, it is important that you maintain healthy hygiene habits by keeping your hands clean, not touching your face, or sharing personal items like makeup. Prevention is key when trying to avoid an infection, but there are a couple of things you can do to help with conjunctivitis if infected.
You can make a cool compress with a towel and some cool water and place it on the infected eye to relieve swelling. Some over-the-counter lubricating eye drops might help with the itching and redness, but this is not a cure, just a symptom reliever.
Perhaps you think you need antibiotics, but that is not always the case and doctors are often too quick to prescribe them. Most pink eye cases in adults are viral, so taking antibiotics can do more harm than good when misused. If symptoms persist or do not clear up within 3-5 days, be sure to call your doctor.
If you enjoyed this informative article on pink eye and contacts, then be sure to check out our other health and medical articles.