Pink Eye Symptoms
Pink eye can occur due to a variety of reasons, including a virus, bacteria, an irritant such as dirt or shampoo, or an allergy. While the condition is typically not dangerous, it can threaten the vision of a newborn if not treated immediately.
Symptoms usually include redness in the inner eyelid or the white portion of the eye, an excessive amount of tears, a thick, yellow discharge crusting over the eyelashes, or a green or white discharge. In some cases, it will result in an itching or burning sensation as well as blurred vision. You may also notice you are more sensitive to light than normal.
If you notice any of these symptoms, see a doctor. He or she will take a sample from your eyelid, and then a lab will analyze the results so the proper treatment can be provided.
Causes of Pinkeye
Moraxella bovis is the bacterium responsible for pinkeye and is found in the eyes of recovered and healthy cattle alike. But the bacteria alone doesn’t necessarily cause pinkeye. It seems that there needs to be some kind of added irritation. So flies moving from cow to cow, tall grasses rubbing their eyes, dust and foreign objects in the eye, and ultraviolet (UV) sunlight are all considered potential factors in pinkeye. This last makes breeds without eyelid pigment more susceptible. Calves, especially bull calves, are also more likely to catch pinkeye while adult cattle develop protective antibodies on their eyes’ surfaces.
According to Kevin Gould of Michigan State University Extension, how well an animal works through pinkeye can be influenced by things like “nutritional imbalances, such as deficiencies of protein, energy, vitamins (especially vitamin A if the forage is lower quality) and minerals (especially copper and selenium).” He adds that, “The presence of other organisms such as the infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) virus, mycoplasma, chlamydia and Branhemella ovis will increase the incidence and severity of disease.
As For Treatment…
If you don’t go for no treatment at all, antibiotics are the most recommended treatment. Gould recommends tetracyclines at 4.5 cc per 100 pounds of bodyweight injected subcutaneously or in the thin membrane that covers the white of the eye (the bulbar conjuctiva). Sometimes a patch is added to keep the eye from being further irritated.
On another listserv I read a discussion of salt as a treatment. The writer said old timers told her to throw salt at the animals’ eyes. A respondent told her not to do that as it just makes the cows mad, and suggested, like Greg, to not treat it at all and the animals would get well.
What Is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelid margin. It’s common and treatable.
There are several possible causes of blepharitis, including:
- Bacterial eyelid infection
- Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD)
- Dry eyes
- Fungal eyelid infection
- Parasites (Demodex eyelash mites)
Some eye doctors believe blepharitis actually is a precursor of meibomian gland dysfunction and dry eyes, rather than being caused by these conditions. (See “Blepharitis And Dry Eyes” below.)
Blepharitis also is frequently associated with skin conditions such as ocular rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis. Often, blepharitis and pink eye occur at the same time.
The most common symptoms of blepharitis are:
- Burning or stinging eyes
- Crusty debris or dandruff at the base of eyelashes
- Irritated, watery eyes
- Itchy eyelids (causing eye rubbing)
- Grittiness or a foreign body sensation
Depending on the severity of blepharitis, you may have some or all of these symptoms, which may be intermittent or constant. In some cases, blepharitis also causes loss of eyelashes (madarosis).
Blepharitis is a common cause of contact lens discomfort, forcing many people to give up wearing contacts.
Eyelid Hygiene Tips
Eyelid hygiene is very helpful to treat and control blepharitis, but only if performed properly.
To begin, use a clean, warm compress to melt any blocked residue in the oil-secreting meibomian glands in your eyelids. Here’s how:
- Wash your hands, then dampen a clean washcloth with warm (nearly hot) water.
- Place the washcloth over your closed eyelids for several minutes.
- Then gently rub your eyelid margin with the washcloth before opening your eyes. (Don’t press hard on your eye.)
Follow your eye doctor’s recommendations on how often to use a warm compress and how long to keep it in place. When you first begin treatment, you may be instructed to do this several times daily, for about five minutes each time. Later on, you might only need to apply the compress once daily.
Cleaning your eyelids is the next essential step. Your doctor will recommend what to use for the cleaning agent. Options include warm water, diluted baby shampoo or an over-the-counter or prescription eyelid cleanser.
To clean your eyelids:
- Wash your hands, then moisten a clean washcloth, cotton swab or gauze pad with the cleaning solution.
- Gently wipe your eyelashes and lid margin.
- Rinse with warm water.
- Repeat the process for your other eye, using a different washcloth, swab or pad.
- Your eye doctor may have you clean your eyelids several times daily to start, and then once daily thereafter.
It’s a good idea to minimize use of eye makeup when you have blepharitis, because mascara and other makeup can interfere with eyelid hygiene.
If your doctor recommends an anti-dandruff shampoo for your scalp and eyebrows, make sure you keep the shampoo out of your eyes to avoid irritation.