Preventing Pesky Pink Eye

HealthDiseases and Illnesses

At one time or another, someone in your family will get the " pink eye" diagnosis. Medically known as conjunctivitis, it is just as it sounds - an infection that turns the mucous membranes over and around the eye pink and inflamed.

Typically caused by a virus, bacteria or allergies, approximately 3 million American school days are missed each year due to acute conjunctivitis. Anyone can get it. Most often it appears in schools, colleges, swimming pools, camps or military housing.

Although usually easy to treat, left untreated, eye damage can occur. Don't self diagnose because symptoms may be signs of more serious diseases.


* Eyelashes stuck together after sleep

* Gritty feeling in eyes

* Light sensitivity

* Swollen eyelids

* Eyes itching


* See a qualified eye professional as soon as possible for a diagnosis

* Use prescribed antibiotic eye drops, ointments and other medications, if needed

* Clean eye crusting with a cotton swab soaked in warm water

* Wear tinted glasses

* Do not cover eyes with a patch


The Center for Disease Control recommends good, old-fashion hand washing. Avoiding people with symptoms is a given. If the infection is the adenovirus, it can survive outside the body up to seven weeks. A dilute, bleach-like cleaner should be used for proper disinfection of door knobs, toys, phones and other surfaces commonly touched. Don't forget the remote.

If your kids have pink eye, keep them away from others, even in your household.Avoid re-infection by throwing away old eye make-up, using a clean pillow case each night, avoiding wearing contact lenses during treatment and cleaning surfaces that may harbor the germs or virus.If pink eye rears its ugly face, don't panic but see a doctor. You should be over viral conjunctivitis in two to four weeks and bacterial pink eye in about a week. Allergic conjunctivitis tends to be recurring and seasonal.

American Journal of Infection Control, 2002, by Guinan et al.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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