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Located on North Main Street across from the Va. Tech campus

Located on North Main Street across from the Va. Tech campus

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Home » Our Optometry Clinic » Eye Health Library » Conditions » Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

However, the term “pink eye” is often used to refer to any or all types of conjunctivitis, not just its acute, contagious form.

Signs and symptoms of pink eye

How can you tell what type of pink eye you have? The way your eyes feel will provide some clues:

  • Viral conjunctivitis usually causes excessive eye watering and a light discharge.
  • Bacterial conjunctivitis often causes a thick, sticky discharge, sometimes greenish.
  • Allergic conjunctivitis affects both eyes and causes itching and redness in the eyes and sometimes the nose, as well as excessive tearing.
  • Giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC) usually affects both eyes and causes contact lens intolerance, itching, a heavy discharge, tearing and red bumps on the underside of the eyelids.

To pinpoint the cause and then choose an appropriate treatment, your eye doctor will ask some questions, examine your eyes and possibly collect a sample on a swab to send out for analysis.

What causes pink eye?

Though pink eye can affect people of any age, it is especially common among preschoolers and school children because of the amount of bacteria transferred among children.

Conjunctivitis may also be triggered by a virus, an allergic reaction (to dust, pollen, smoke, fumes or chemicals) or, in the case of giant papillary conjunctivitis, a foreign body on the eye, typically a contact lens. Bacterial and viral infections elsewhere in the body may also induce conjunctivitis.

Treatment of pink eye

Avoidance. Your first line of defense is to avoid the cause of conjunctivitis, such as contaminated hand towels. Both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis, which can be caused by airborne sources, spread easily to others.

To avoid allergic conjunctivitis, keep windows and doors closed on days when the airborne pollen count is high. Dust and vacuum frequently to eliminate potential allergens in the home.

Stay in well-ventilated areas if you’re exposed to smoke, chemicals or fumes. If you do experience exposure to these substances, cold compresses over your closed eyes can be very soothing.

If you’ve developed giant papillary conjunctivitis, odds are that you’re a contact lens wearer. You’ll need to stop wearing your contact lenses, at least for a little while. Your eye doctor may also recommend that you switch to a different type of contact lens, to reduce the chance of the conjunctivitis coming back.

Medication. Unless there’s some special reason to do so, eye doctors don’t normally prescribe medication for viral conjunctivitis, because it usually clears up on its own within a few days. Your eye doctor might prescribe an astringent to keep your eyes clean, to prevent a bacterial infection from starting. Another common prescription is for artificial tears, to relieve dryness and discomfort.

Antibiotic eyedrops or ointments will alleviate most forms of bacterial conjunctivitis, while antibiotic tablets are used for certain infections that originate elsewhere in the body.

Antihistamine allergy pills or eyedrops will help control allergic conjunctivitis symptoms. In addition, artificial tears provide comfort, but they also protect the eye’s surface from allergens and dilute the allergens that are present in the tear film.

For giant papillary conjunctivitis, your doctor may prescribe eyedrops to reduce inflammation and itching.

Usually conjunctivitis is a minor eye infection. But sometimes it can develop into a more serious condition. See your eye doctor for a diagnosis before using any eye drops in your medicine cabinet from previous infections or eye problems.

Prevention tips

Because young children often are in close contact in day care centers and school rooms, it can be difficult to avoid the spread of bacteria causing pink eye. However, these tips can help concerned parents, day care workers and teachers reduce the possibility of a pink eye outbreak in institutional environments:

  • Adults in school and day care centers should wash their hands frequently and encourage children to do the same. Soap should always be available for hand washing.
  • Personal items, including hand towels, should never be shared at school or at home.
  • Encourage children to use tissues and cover their mouths and noses when they sneeze or cough.
  • Discourage eye rubbing and touching, to avoid spread of bacteria and viruses.
  • For about three to five days, children (and adults) diagnosed with pink eye should avoid crowded conditions where the infection could easily spread.
  • Use antiseptic and/or antibacterial solutions to clean and wipe surfaces that children or adults come in contact with, such as common toys, table tops, drinking fountains, sink/faucet handles, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

Protecting our Patients from Coronavirus Disease Outbreak

Making sure our patients and staff are safe is our top priority. We know many patients are concerned about the spread of Coronavirus.

Our Promise to Our Patients:

We understand the obvious concern that coronavirus has brought to the area. We want to make you aware of the steps we are taking to protect our patients and team members in this time of uncertainty.

We request the following of patients:

  1. If you have traveled in the last 14 days to a country other than the U.S. where coronavirus has been diagnosed, or to any area in this country that has had a number of cases of concern (eg, Seattle, DC-NY metro area, parts of CA, etc…) please call the office to reschedule your appointment for next month or beyond.
  2. If you have any symptoms that mimic that of the coronavirus, which includes a fever or respiratory symptoms, including a cough, please call and reschedule your appointment at least 14 days from now.
  3. If you suspect that you have had direct contact with people who have been around any of the people who have tested positive for the coronavirus, please call us to reschedule your visit beyond 14 days from now.
  4. Remember to follow basic hygiene guidelines to avoid the spread of germs, which includes washing your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds.

Our staff will also follow these guidelines and will not be present at work if they exhibit any of the above-mentioned symptoms:

  1. Any eye doctor or team member who is sick is staying home
  2. We sanitize every piece of equipment after each use and again at the end of the day (as part of our precautions we always adhere to).
  3. We will sanitize all patient contact surfaces between every patient.
  4. Our team washes their hands often throughout the day
  5. If we don’t shake hands with our patients during this time, please don’t take it personally.
  1. Please call us with any questions or concerns, and if you feel it best for you or your family member to reschedule your appointment, feel free to do so.
  2. We do expect this to be an ongoing situation in our area for an extended period of time, and do not want our patients to neglect their eye care needs during this time. We will continue to give recommendations based on the evidence we have on safe delivery of eye care in a time of uncertainty.

For the most up-to-date information on treatments, FAQs, news and more, please visit the following official health organizations:

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) at www.CDC.gov

World Health Organization (WHO) at www.WHO.int

Thank you for helping us to protect all of our patients.

Drs. Jacobs, Steckenrider and Staff