• Could my cancer treatments be the reason I am constantly having pink eye?


    Question:

    This is the fourth time I have had "pink eye" in less than a year. I just finished chemotherapy a year ago this month and radiation nine months ago for breast cancer. Could my cancer or treatments have anything to do with this? Before this I hadn't had this in over 10 years. I do wear contacts but have replaced each pair after the infection. I have used different mascara and I clean my glasses. The only other thing I can think of is if I used the same eye shadow and forgot.


    Answer:

    "Pink eye" is a generic term for a red eye generally associated with viral conjunctivitis (swelling of the thin membrane covering the white of the eye). Usually in this case, patients experience a very red, watery, irritated eye that frequently spreads to the other eye. However, many times when patients come into the office with 'pink eye', they have other causes of conjunctivitis that also cause a red eye including dryness, allergies, blepharitis (clogged oil glands that can cause swollen eyelids and redness), exposure to pollutants, and irritants, as well as bacterial conjunctivitis. Chemotherapy can cause tearing, and radiation treatment, if near the eyes, can cause dryness. Not all cases of conjunctivitis are infectious and your makeup may not be at fault.

    Complicating matters, conditions such as blepharitis can come and go and can also respond to antibiotics that are primarily used for treating other conditions. Figuring out the cause of the conjunctivitis is essential to finding the appropriate treatment. You should see your ophthalmologist to correctly diagnose the underlying cause.


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