Pink Eye 101

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Can you feel it in the air? The crisp colors decorating the Wasatch Front, the dusting of snow on the mountains, and the tangy aroma of fireplaces roaring to life signal autumn in Utah County. Before you curl up with some hot chocolate or cider, there is another thing that arrives with the fall – cold and flu season. Burst your bubble, didn’t I? Not only do these nasty bugs come to visit in the fall, secondary infections like pneumonia, sinus infections, and even the dreaded pink eye chase the cold and flu like a police officer in a high-speed chase.

Utah Valley Eye, long-time leader in LASIK surgery in Provo, has complied the most commonly asked questions about Conjunctivitis, more commonly known as Pink Eye.

Who diagnoses and treats Pink Eye?

Normally, physicians are the medical personnel who diagnose and treat Pink Eye. Ophthalmologists can diagnose and treat Pink Eye as well.

Is Pink Eye really that contagious?

There are few conditions that elicit as strong a response from teachers and parents as Pink Eye. If you’ve not experienced it in your family, you’re lucky and you’re in for a fun few weeks! Pink Eye is highly contagious, and families should take every possible precaution to avoid its spread. This means staying out of public until the person with Pink Eye has been using the eye drops for at least 24 hours.

Due to the highly contagious nature of the condition, frequently doctors will prescribe eyedrops for other family members upon a positive diagnosis of Pink Eye. Others prefer to phone in a prescription after the family member begins to have symptoms of infection.

What causes Pink Eye?

Pink Eye is an irritation or inflammation of the Conjunctiva, the clear lining of the eyelid and eyeball that produces the characteristic pink-colored eyeball and a deepening of color on the eyelid. There are three primary causes for Pink Eye, viral infection, bacterial infection, allergic irritation, and environmental irritation (smoke, dust, inversions, etc.).

The virus that is typically associated with Pink Eye is the same as that that causes the common cold. Contact with body fluids of an infected person and then rubbing one’s eyes will usually score a win and spread the disease.

Treatment options

For allergic Pink Eye, the redness, tearing, and swelling are triggered by exposure to a known or unknown allergen. Removing it from the person’s general environment and a dose of antihistamine work wonders. Viral and bacterial Pink Eye should be treated with an antibiotic eye drop. Between doses, a cool washcloth applied to the eyes can provide relief from the burning and gritty sensation associated with Pink Eye. Make sure to wash all bedding, pillowcases, wash cloths, and towels that have come into contact with the eye in hot water and with detergent between uses.

Cautionary note for parents of newborns

It is critical that if your newborn or infant have symptoms of Pink Eye that you see a pediatrician quickly. This can prevent serious and long-term damage to the eyes.

What is the best way to dispense eyedrops?

One of the best tips that we’ve heard here as far as how to put eyedrops in a child’s (or nervous adult’s) eyes is brilliant. Have the child lie down and close their eyes. When their eyelids are fully relaxed, squeeze a drop into the inside corner of the eye and have the person open their eyes (without rubbing). This dispenses the medication into the eye gently without the reflexive jerking motion. After a few seconds, repeat. Many parents find that rewarding their child with a small treat helps with the battle of the eye drops.

If you have further questions, please visit us and feel free to ask. We do much more than Provo eyelid surgery and LASIK.

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