Family Corner: What is Pink Eye?
The American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates that three million school days are lost in U.S. public schools every year due to pink eye infections. As children are now back in school, be aware of the symptoms of this highly contagious infection and how to stop it.
Symptoms of Pink Eye
Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is a common eye infection that results in irritation or inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin membrane that covers the inner eyelid and the white part of the eye. Pink eye can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, or by allergies. Bacterial and viral pink eye can be very contagious and are usually spread by contact with an infected person or things they have touched.
Kids are particularly susceptible to this type of infection because they frequently come in close contact in school and daycare settings. Your child might catch pink eye simply by touching the hand of an infected friend who has touched his or her eyes. Common symptoms include:
- Pink or red color in one or both eyes
- Swelling of the conjunctiva
- Increased tearing
- Yellow-green discharge in one or both eyes
- Itching in one or both eyes
- A gritty feeling in one or both eyes
- Crusty eyelids or lashes
How to Prevent Pink Eye
The spread of pink eye can be stopped by simple hygiene measures, including washing hands often with soap and water, and not touching the eyes with unwashed hands. If you are around someone with pink eye, you should avoid sharing any item that the infected person has used, including eye drops, eye makeup, towels, linens, pillows, contact lenses and eyeglasses.
If you or a family member becomes sick with pink eye, you should stay home until the eyes stop producing discharge. Daycares and schools often require that a child wait at least 24 hours after starting treatment before returning to class.
Get Tested for Pink Eye Instantly at RediClinic
Not sure if those red, itchy eyes are caused by pink eye? RediClinic offers instant pink eye tests! Our board-certified clinicians can administer antiviral medication or antibiotics to clear an infection. We also offer a full range of health services for your child. RediClinic locations are open seven days a week, including extended weekday hours and most holidays.