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Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is an irritation of the conjunctiva (the membrane that lines the inside surface of your eyelid). As small blood vessels become more irritated, they become more visible. This is why the whites of your eyes appear red or pink. Pink eye can be caused by an infection -- from a bacteria or virus -- an allergic response, or exposure to an irritant. Newborns may contract conjunctivitis from an incompletely opened tear duct. The infection may occur in one or both eyes.
Pink eye is extremely common and if caused by an infection, can spread quite easily. According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are 3-6 million cases of pink eye every year. Although the infection may be irritating, it rarely causes vision problems. It is important to remember, however, that because pink eye is so contagious, it is best to receive treatment for it as soon as possible.
Below is a list of common medications used to treat pink eye, which a doctor or provider on Sesame can prescribe for just $5 through SesameRx.
Note that all prescriptions are at the discretion of your doctor.
The treatment for pink eye largely depends on the cause of the infection. The vast majority of cases of pink eye will go away with time and at-home treatment. In some cases, however, medicinal therapy may be required.
During your appointment, talk to your doctor about what treatment plan is right for you.
Most forms of pink eye are viral infections, making antibiotics unnecessary. Viral eye infections need to run their course, which usually lasts between 4-7 days. In the meantime, simple home remedies can help relieve symptoms.
If pink is caused by a bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe a topical antibiotic eye drop or ointment to speed up recovery time. Antibiotic treatment should help the infection heal within a week. Continue to take any prescribed medication as instructed, even if your symptoms have gone away. If you stop taking antibiotics too soon, the bacterial infection could recur.
In most cases, medicine won’t help to treat pink eye. If the infection has been caused by a virus, the best form of treatment is time and eye care. Tips to help soothe the inflammation and discomfort caused by pink eye include:
Apply a cold compress to the area around your eyes. Soak a clean, lint-free cloth in water and wring it out before gently placing it on your closed eyes. If just one eye is affected by pink eye, avoid touching both eyes with the same cloth. This reduces the risk of pink eye spreading from one eye to the other.
Avoid wearing contact lenses. Consult your doctor about whether you should discard your disposable contacts, cleaning solution, and lens case. If your lenses aren't disposable, properly clean them before using them again.
Moisten your eyes with eye drops. Artificial tears, which are available over-the-counter, may help to alleviate discomfort. Antihistamines and other medicines are found in certain eye drops and can provide relief to patients with allergic conjunctivitis.
Good hygiene can help prevent the spread of eye infections. If you have an eye infection, these methods can also keep the condition from getting worse. These practices include:
Regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water. The CDC recommends you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
Do not touch or rub your eye, especially if it is infected.
Wash discharge from your eye several times a day. Use a clean, wet washcloth or cotton ball. Do not reuse cloths or cotton balls, as these may carry the virus causing the infection.
Change your pillowcases often.
Do not share eye cosmetics or eye care items such as eyeglasses.