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Know the symptoms and treatment for pinkeye (conjunctivitis)

Know the symptoms and treatment for pinkeye (conjunctivitis)

Just exactly what is pink eye? An eye can turn “pink” for many reasons-and most people will get “pinkeye” in their lifetimes. To help you prevent, treat, and recover, learn the facts about conjunctivitis with this expert advice.


Do find out why your eye is looking “pink”

An eye can look pink for many different reasons. If you rub your eye or get something in it it may appear pink due to the irritation. The term “pink eye” generally refers to a severe and highly aggressive and contagious form of viral conjunctivitis that is formally called epidemic keratoconjunctivitis or EKC. This condition may require medical treatment that is not available over the counter. A visit to the doctor will most likely be needed.

Do know the symptoms of conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is very bothersome and annoying. Most likely you will know that something is amiss and you will want it remedied as soon as possible! The most common and uncomfortable symptoms are redness in the eye, increased tearing and discharge. This discharge will most likely cause crusting in your eye when you wake up after sleeping. Other symptoms include itchiness and a burning sensation in your eye. Your vision may also be affected. You may not be able to see as clearly and you may be more sensitive to light.

Do get to the eye doctor to determine the cause and treatment

Conjunctivitis has several causes, and the treatment depends on what caused it. Conjunctivitis can be caused by bacteria (including sexually-transmitted bacteria), viruses and irritants or allergens. Some forms can be serious. Conjunctivitis caused by bacteria will most likely require anti-bacterial and possibly other eye drops. Viral conjunctivitis may most likely clear up on its own but your eye doctor may prescribe medications, like anti-inflammatory eye drops to ease your symptoms and help make you more comfortable. If your condition was caused by an irritant or allergen, that cause will need to be dealt with appropriately, whether it be by simply washing it out or taking other measures like allergy products. Also, specific eye treatment may be needed as well.

Do remove your contacts if you wear them

You will have to get used to wearing your glasses while your eye heals. Then, dispose of the contacts you wore prior. You will most likely reinfect yourself if you put in the same lenses, and then it will be even longer before you can wear your contacts again.

Do see a doctor immediately if you think a newborn has conjunctivitis

If you see anything awry in a newborn or infant’s eye, see an eye doctor immediately. Regarding children of any age, it is also important to seek immediate medical help so that it can be treated as soon as possible and also so that it does not spread to other children. Conjunctivitis is highly contagious and is spread easily by children who may not or cannot take precautions on their own to stop the spread of it.


Do not skip your drops

Follow your doctor’s directions on when to administer your drops. Try not to touch your eye with the bottle. If you have trouble putting drops in your own eyes and are having someone else do it for you, they need to take extra precautions not to touch your eyes as it is highly contagious. Hands should be washed before and after administering drops. Do not use a bottle of drops you used in an affected eye in an unaffected one, though there would be no reason to do this unless your doctor said to. Do not use over-the-counter tears or other drops while you are being treated for conjunctivitis unless your doctor recommended it.

Do not rub or touch your eyes

Though it may provide temporary relief, rubbing your eyes could make things worse and spread the infection. However, if your doctor gave you instructions on washing your eyes, follow them.

Do not share anything

Don’t share any type of glasses including reading glasses, makeup, towels and other things you may share until the symptoms have cleared up. Also, frequently wash your bed linens and especially your pillowcase using hot water.

Do not send an infected child to school if possible

Conjunctivitis is very contagious. Also, your child may have problems concentrating or performing necessary tasks or activities in school if their eyes are bothering them or have constant discharge coming out. Speak to your doctor about when to send them back.

Do not wear eye makeup

This may be the hardest to stick to if you are not used to leaving your house without your makeup on, but if at all possible don’t apply any. (You may also want to dispose of makeup that touched your eyes prior to being diagnosed.) Makeup particles can get in your eye and make matters worse. Also, you will infect your makeup and have to buy new makeup. Third, you may even find any eyeliner hard to apply or even harder to remain on if your eyes are teary or if there is discharge. Talk to your eye doctor about this for your specific case.

Jumping cartoon

Conjunctivitis is not only uncomfortable but contagious and potentially serious in some conditions. See an eye doctor as soon as you notice symptoms, and you will be back in your game before you know it.

More expert advice about Vision and Eye Care

Photo Credits: Instilling eye drops and ointment. by Flickr: Community Eye Health; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas -

Niki SilversteinMD, Board-Certified Ophthalmologist

Niki A. Silverstein, MD is a board-certified ophthalmologist renowned for her extensive experience in cataract and laser technology. She has consistently been recognized as a Top Ophthalmologist by the Consumer’s Research Council of America. She...

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