Many people, especially children, experience conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, at some point in their lives. However, pink eye being a common condition does not mean that a lot of people are well informed about it.
When it comes to your eye health and your children’s eye health, it is important to be as informed as possible. Read on for the answers to six commonly asked questions about pink eye. You’ll learn some important facts about pink eye that everyone should know!
#1. What is Pink Eye, and How is it Caused?
Pink eye is characterized by swelling and redness in the lining of the eye, also known as the conjunctiva. Most often, pink eye is caused by a virus that occurs at the same time or soon after having a cold. In more rare cases, a bacterial infection can lead to pink eye. Other contributing conditions include dry air, allergies, smoke, and chemicals.
#2. How Can Pink Eye be Prevented?
Practicing good hygiene is considered the best way to prevent pink eye. Washing your hands often and drying them with clean towels are simple and effective steps for keeping the eyes clean and free from irritation.
Additionally, avoiding sharing eye cosmetics, eye care items, and towels will also help prevent spreading pink eye. In newborns, who are very susceptible to bacteria, an antibiotic ointment should be applied to the eyes to prevent infection from occurring.
#3. What are the Warning Signs of Pink Eye?
As with any illness, it is important to recognize the symptoms in order to prevent it from spreading or getting worse. Pink eye is no exception. Symptoms of pink eye include the following:
- Redness or swelling in the white part of the eye or inside of the eyelids
- Increased tears
- White, yellow, or green eye discharge
- Itchy, irritated, or burning eyes
- Increased, yet mild, sensitivity to light
- Crusting of the eyelid or eyelashes
As soon as you notice any of these symptoms presenting themselves in yourself or your child, visit your doctor to get treatment. It is no mystery that pink eye is very contagious, so the sooner you begin treatment, the better.
#4. How Should Pink Eye be Treated?
The treatment for pink eye varies depending on whether it is bacterial, viral, or the result of environmental factors. For bacterial pink eye, antibiotic ointments or eye drops are very effective in clearing up the condition, although they need up to 24 hours to be effective. If pink eye is viral, unfortunately, it simply has to run its course. You can help treat the symptoms of viral pink eye with eye drops and warm or cool compresses.
When pink eye is the result of allergies or other environmental factors, it is not contagious, although it is still irritating. This type of pink eye can be treated with eye drops, antihistamines, and cold compresses.
#5. Where Can Kids Easily Get Pink Eye?
Most people are aware that pink eye spreads very easily. It has been found to spread the most easily among children in daycares and schools. If your child is suffering from pink eye, to avoid spreading the condition to other children, he or she should be kept out of school until either antibacterial treatments can take effect or the virus has run its course.
#6. How Long Do Pink Eye Symptoms Last?
Pink eye symptoms generally subside within three to seven days. Once the obvious symptoms of pink eye (redness, discharge, etc.) have disappeared, it is probably safe for your child to return to school or daycare. However, it is better to err on the side of caution, so you should wait until you are certain the condition has cleared up before allowing them around other children.
Pink eye is a common condition, but that doesn’t mean it is any less frustrating or difficult to deal with. At VSP Direct, we want to make sure our patients are as informed as possible about a variety of eye conditions. Visit our Vision Hub for more information about pink eye and other conditions, and schedule an appointment with one of our doctors today to get a proper diagnosis if you think you or your child has pink eye. Learn more about a VSP Direct vision insurance plan.