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Treating Pink Eye

What is pink eye (conjunctivitis), how is it treated and most importantly, how can it be prevented?

Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is usually caused by viruses, bacteria or allergy. The most common symptoms are pink or red color to the white of the eye and tearing, itching and burning. Most cases are mild and last about a week. If symptoms last longer or are more severe (pain and/or loss of vision), prompt consultation with your eyecare provider is recommended.

Viral conjunctivitis
Conjunctivitis due to a virus is the most common type of pink eye, usually resolving within a week. Many people also have an associated cold or sore throat. It is contagious by direct contact with the affected individual and his/her towels, washcloths or pillowcases. Discomfort can be minimized with cool compresses applied to the eye and refrigerated artificial tears. Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for more severe cases.

Bacterial conjunctivitis
Bacterial conjunctivitis is common in children and is the leading cause of school absences. Antibiotics in eye drop form are used to treat the infection.

Allergic conjunctivitis
Allergic conjunctivitis is a reaction to substances including tree and grass pollens, molds, animal dander and cosmetics. Often occurring seasonally, the most prominent symptom is itching.
Cool compresses and artificial tears provide substantial relief for most people. Allergy eyedrops also help.

Use good hygiene to prevent the spread of viral and bacterial conjunctivitis
• Wash your hands often.
• Avoid touching your eyes with your hands.
• Replace your eye cosmetics regularly with new ones; do not share with other people.
• Clean contact lenses properly, and dispose as directed.

April 2016