Pink eye – or what your eye doctor may call conjunctivitis – is common in young children. It’s typically contagious, and it can spread rapidly through playgrounds and preschools. While pink eye is often diagnosed in kids, it can also affect teenagers and adults. At our East Plano, Texas, eye care center, we diagnose and treat eye infections in patients of all ages.
What is pink eye?
This pesky infection is an inflammation of the conjunctiva (the thin membrane that covers the eye surface and inner eyelids) and the sclera (white part) of the eye. While it can look bad, it is usually a minor infection that’s not serious. But whenever you notice the signs of an eye infection in your child, it’s important to bring them to the eye doctor because many types of conjunctivitis require treatment to heal.
What are the different types of pink eye?
Our eye doctor in East Plano, Texas, will perform an eye exam to diagnose the specific type of pink eye, such as:
- Infectious pinkeye, which is contagious, can be caused by bacteria or viruses. In fact, the same kinds of bacteria and viruses that lead to colds, sore throats, and ear and sinus infections can cause pink eye. Bacterial pink eye is treated with antibiotic drops or ointment, whereas viral pink eye will gradually clear up on its own.
- Allergic conjunctivitis, which can be triggered by pollen, grass, dust mites, animal dander, and other airborne allergens can lead to pink, itchy eyes.
- Irritant conjunctivitis, which can be caused by any irritants – such as chlorine or cigarette smoke, may result in similar symptoms.
What are the signs and symptoms of pink eye?
As the name states, a pink or red color in your kid’s eye is the most common sign. In addition, watch out for:
- Discomfort; many kids complain of a feeling that sand or something is stuck in their eye.
- Oozy discharge that forms a crust on the eyelids while sleeping; it can be yellow, green or white
- Swelling of the conjunctiva – you may notice swollen eyelids
- Sensitivity to bright light
- Itchiness and watery eyes – especially when it is allergic conjunctivitis
How can pink eye be prevented in children?
Touching an infected person or something the person has made contact with, such as a towel or toy, is the most direct way for kids to catch an eye infection. It can also spread through coughing and sneezing. With that in mind, keeping distance from other kids and their personal items is a good way to help prevent the spread of pink eye. They shouldn’t ever share tissues, eye makeup, eye drops, towels or pillowcases. Teaching kids to wash their hands thoroughly, using soap and warm water, is also important.
When should I bring my child to the eye doctor?
If you notice the signs and symptoms of pink eye in your child and they do not show improvement within 2 -3 days, call your eye doctor. Or, if you’ve already visited our eye doctor and received treatment that hasn’t appeared to help within a few days, contact our East Plano optometry office.
At Switalski Eye Care, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 855-847-4686 or book an appointment online to see one of our East Plano eye doctors.
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