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All About Pink Eye

This is probably the single most common item on a parents mind because every kid is going to get this at some point or other. Sometimes a generous child will give this to the whole family! What is pink eye? Well, it really is not a diagnosis; it is just a red eye. So “Pink Eye” could be anything from a severe infection of the eye to an allergy of the eye. Basically, when the eye is irritated it gets red or “Pink.” What most people are referring to when they call something “Pink Eye” is a bacterial or viral conjunctivitis. The good news is both of these will probably go away without any treatment, but the bad news is that it can be very difficult to distinguish between these things and other diseases of the eyes, and they are both contagious (although viral is extremely contagious). An antibiotic can improve the speed that a bacterial conjunctivitis improves, but viral conjunctivitis just needs to run it's course unless it is more severe. Conjunctivitis will usually have a prominent discharge; viral is usually more clear whereas bacterial is usually more thick and snotty. They both can go to both eyes which is usually a reassuring finding as far as the diagnosis, but problematic for the parents. Viral conjunctivitis can take as long as two weeks to go away while bacterial conjunctivitis is usually gone by a week. What should you do when your child has a “Pink Eye”? First thing you need to do is make sure they wash their hands and don't share towels or other possibly contaminated items with yourself or your family. This way you reduce your chances of getting contaminated. If there is a big outbreak, then this is probably viral conjunctivitis and there is probably not much to be done. Any decrease in vision, pain, or prolonged course should be examined. Use your best judgment because although most cases of “Pink Eye” will resolve there are cases that are more serious and it is not possible to tell the difference without an exam with a microscope.

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