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Posted by Dr. Monica Wonnacott | February 22, 2016

The Dreaded Pink Eye: What To Do

Illnesses come in waves, and I’ve seen a lot of pink eye the last few weeks. Everyone fears “pinkeye.” I get it, it’s freaky.

The medical term is conjunctivitis. With conjunctivitis, the conjunctiva (the thin, clear tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye) gets inflamed or infected.

Most cases of conjunctivitis are caused by bacteria, viruses, or allergens/irritants. The first 2 causes (bacterial and viral) are highly contagious.

Some of the signs and symptoms of conjunctivitis are:

  1. Pink or red discoloration to the white of the eye or inner eyelids
  2. Discharge coming from the eyes (can be green, white, or yellow and stick to lashes, especially after sleep)
  3. Itchy eyes (usually allergic)
  4. Burning eyes
  5. Blurred vision
  6. Increased tearing
  7. Increased light sensitivity
  8. Gritty feeling in the eyes

Prevent the spread by:

  1. Washing hands frequently (especially before and after applying drops)
  2. Avoid touching infected eyes
  3. Sanitize everything the person with pink eye has touched (pillow cases, hand towels, household surfaces, etc.)
  4. Stop using makeup on infected eyes (infected makeup will need to be pitched).
  5. Stop wearing contact lenses during the infection (infected contacts will need to be pitched)

Conjunctivitis generally warrants a visit to your doctor. Bacterial conjunctivitis is usually treated with a drop or ointment. Allergic conjunctivitis is usually treated with an allergy med (either oral med, or eye drop, or both). Viral conjunctivitis is treated with “supportive measures” (aka, no antibiotics, just try to help with comfort). When treated properly, conjunctivitis is usually a mild, albeit inconvenient, illness.

Thanks to my patient–Isn’t she adorable, even with her pink eyes!–and her sweet mom, who let me snap a pic. This kiddo’s pink eye started in one eye, and as most kids do, managed to rub her eyes and spread the infection to the other eye.

-Photos courtesy of a really nice mom in my practice.