DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - Athens resident Jenice Watts recently went in for a second visit to Dr. Chris Teichmiller's office. She complained of a sharp pain in her left eye. "My eyes were red, blurry, watery," she said. "I couldn't tolerate the sunlight."
The diagnosis – conjunctivitis, also known as pink-eye.
"It's an infection of the clear part of the eye that overlies the white part of the eye. It does not involve the cornea normally, it's just the clear membrane over the white part," said Dr. Teichmiller.
There are several root causes, according to the doctor, including viral or bacterial infections, allergies or simple irritation. "It's real important to know which one of the infections is the cause, so you can provide appropriate treatment," said Dr. Teichmiller.
The doctor said the difference is clear. "Usually the main difference is in bacterial infections; you have a lot of mucus or whitish or yellowish discharge, whereas in viral, it tends to be more watery and more red and more painful."
In Watts' case, the infection was viral and there was a medication which worked. "There is a lot of talk on my optometry circles about Bob Costas' situation and there is actually an off-label use for betadine. It wipes out the viral load and that's what I did for this patient today."
Teichmiller said nowadays it takes about five days for the patient to begin feeling better. Pink-eye is contagious, so family members of someone suffering from pink-eye should refrain from contact as much as possible during their illness.