WILL MY CHILD CATCH PINK EYE AT SCHOOL?

Dr. Jim Martin 07/29/2014

boy-pinkeye-conjunctivitis.jpgConjunctivitis (Pink Eye) is one of the most common eye infections spread among school children. The reason it’s so virulent is its quick transition from irritation to infection. At first, you may complain that your eyes itch, won’t stop watering, or that you feel like there’s sand in them. Pretty soon after that (within 24 hours) the whites of your eyes become pink and discharge (a lot of it) builds up. What you do next depends on the underlying cause of the infection.

How Is Pink Eye Diagnosed?

Your first step is to schedule an eye health examination with an eye doctor. Even if your child is not symptomatic, if there has been a pink eye outbreak at their school, get them checked. It is better to be safe than sorry.

An eye care specialist might be able to diagnose the presence of the infection on-sight, but in order to determine the cause, a slit lamp exam and discharge swab may need to be taken and the results analyzed. The infection does not affect your overall vision wellness if it is caught early and promptly treated.

There are a number of reasons why determining the cause of pink eye is important:

  • The viral and bacterial types can be spread through contaminated surfaces, sharing of make-up, towels, or washcloths, poor hand washing, coughing and sneezing.

  • The diagnosis will determine how you should treat your child while the infection is contagious.

  • If pink eye is chronic or your child is extremely sensitive to light, they could have a more severe eye health problem or underlying condition like: rheumatic diseases, Kawasaki Syndrome, or inflammatory bowel diseases. These diagnoses are very rare, but it is still something to be aware of.

  • The infection usually lasts 4 to 7 days; however it may take longer to resolve if it is viral.  However; your child may be able to return to school within 24 hours after starting antibiotics.

  • Please note; allergic and chemical conjunctivitis are not contagious. The infection is caused by seasonal changes, exposure to certain substances, or chemical fumes.

How Is Pink Eye Treated?

Eye doctors in Amarillo, Texas give patients the following treatment guidelines:

  • Stock up on fresh towels, washcloths, Kleenex, and Q-tips.

  • Follow the instructions on the ointments, medications, and/or eye drops prescribed.

  • Use fresh materials every time you treat or wipe the eyes; do not use your hands.

  • Use a fresh washcloth on each eye to avoid spreading the infection.

  • Contain and discard all Kleenex and Q-tips promptly after use.

  • Wash all washcloths and towels separately; use anti-bacterial detergent/bleach.

  • To remove discharge build up, apply a warm washcloth to both eyes and wipe from the inside out.

  • Wash your hands frequently and disinfect all countertops, surfaces, and sinks you touch.

  • Discard any makeup (particularly mascara)  or facial products used during treatment.

  • Use medication as directed.  

As a parent, you know that your child is going to be exposed to things at school. Pink eye could be one of them. If you suspect your child has pink eye, please don’t wait. Call Broome Optical today so we can treat your child for pink eye.

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