A pink eye or conjunctivitis is an inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane that is the conjunctiva, that lines the eyelid and covers the white part of the eyeball. Inflammation of the small blood vessels in the conjunctiva makes them more visible on the white background of the eyeball. This gives a reddish or pinkish appearance to the eyes and so is often referred to as a pink eye.
What causes conjunctivitis?
There are several causes of conjunctivitis. These range from infectious organisms to chemicals and irritants that can cause inflammation of the conjunctiva. The most common causes of conjunctivitis (pink eye) are
allergens like molds, pollen or other substances that cause allergies.
About 80% of acute cases of conjunctivitis are caused by viruses, the most common virus being Adenovirus. Coronaviruses, such as the common cold or COVID-19, are also among the viruses that can cause pink eye.
Other causes of conjunctivitis include
contact lens wear
foreign bodies in the eye (like a loose eyelash)
irritation from indoor and outdoor air pollution caused by smoke, dust, fumes, or chemical vapors
ameba and parasites
What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis or pink eye?
Most symptoms of conjunctivitis may be the same no matter the cause. However, there may be additional symptoms in other systems of the body depending on the particular offending organism. The general symptoms of a pink eye are:
- Redness in one or both eyes
- Itchiness in one or both eyes
- A gritty feeling in one or both eyes
- irritation, and/or burning
- Swelling of the conjunctiva and/or eyelids
- Increased tear production
- A discharge in one or both eyes that forms a crust during the night that may prevent the eye or eyes from opening in the morning.
- Crusting of eyelids or lashes, especially in the morning
- Contact lenses that feel uncomfortable and/or do not stay in place on the eye
How is pink eye spread?
The pink eye is transferred when the organism or allergen comes in contact with the eye. The commonest way to introduce them to the eye is through involuntary face or eye touching. Research among a group of medical students showed that on average, the students touched their face 23 times per hour, and this involved the eyes in 27% of cases. It is therefore not surprising that pink eye is spread in the following scenarios:
- From transfer of the bacteria or virus during close contact (touching, shaking hands). The germs transfer from the hand of the infected person to the hand of the uninfected person, then to their eyes when they touch their eye.
- By touching surfaces contaminated with the bacteria or virus (from infected individuals who have transferred the germs from their hands to objects), then touching the eyes before washing the hands.
- By using unclean old eye makeup or sharing makeup that has become contaminated with bacteria or viruses.
What are Farts?
A fart, often known as gas or flatulence, is the buildup of gases within the small intestine from digestion and respiration. Some inhaled gasses can seep into the intestines from the blood, and some gas is also produced by chemical reactions in the intestines or bacteria living in our guts. Scientists believe an individual passes about 476 to 1491 ml (median 705 ml) of fart in a day. It is the same for both men and women, and people who eat high fiber diets tend to fart less.
A typical fart is composed of about 59 percent nitrogen, 21 percent hydrogen, 9 percent carbon dioxide, 7 percent methane and 4 percent oxygen. Only about one percent of a fart contains hydrogen sulfide gas and mercaptans, which contain sulfur, and the sulfur is responsible for the foul smell of flatulence or fart.
Can you get pink eye from a fart?
There is a myth that farting on pillows can cause pink eye. Farts can be irritating, foul smelling and socially awkward but they do not contain bacteria or viruses that can cause pink eye. Also, even though they can be irritating, they do not contain solid particles that can act as an eye irritant and cause a pink eye, even if a person farts directly into another person’s face. However, feces can accompany farts in some cases. If this is done on a pillow by a person not wearing underpants and feces inadvertently comes out (usually in the case of a person with diarrhea), it can cause pink eye if another person touches it and then touches or rubs the eyes.
So in summary, you cannot get a pink eye from a fart, but be careful not to touch or rub your face in feces on the pillow.
Also, it is a good idea not to fart into a pillow and to put on our underpants while at it as spilling feces into a pillow can lead to many more serious diseases than a pink eye.
How to prevent having a pink eye?
Since farting cannot give a pink eye, it is important to note other ways to avoid a pink eye. These ways are:
Avoid touching of eyes with the hands.
Regular hand washing
Use of a clean towel and washcloth daily.
Change pillowcases often
Discard unused eye cosmetics, such as mascara.
Avoid sharing eye cosmetics or personal eye care items.
If you have a pink eye which is getting worse or not resolving on its own after about 3 to 5 days, visit your doctor to get checked out, you may need medications.