What Causes this Infection? Pink eye, also called conjunctivitis, may be unsightly and look scary, but it’s actually a common eye infection in kids (and adults!). It can affect one or both eyes, turning the eye red or pink when bacteria, a virus, an allergen or another irritant inflames the clear coating of the eye, called the conjunctiva.
If you suspect your toddler has pink eye, book an appointment with an eye doctor near you for diagnosis. Many different eye conditions present with similar symptoms, and only a qualified eye care provider can confirm or rule out pink eye.
Not All Pink Eye is the Same
There are four different types of this eye condition – viral, bacterial, allergic and irritant. What many parents don’t realize is that the symptoms can vary between the types.
The most common symptoms include:
- A pink or red-colored eye
- Itching that makes the toddler rub the eye
- Sensation that something gritty is stuck in the eye
- Light sensitivity
- Sticky mucus discharge; it can sometimes seal the eyelid shut so the child has trouble opening his or her crusty eye upon waking in the morning
- Swollen eyelids
- Watery eyes; this symptom, often accompanied by a runny nose, is most common in allergic pink eye
Viral and bacterial eye infections are both contagious and can be caught from another person or from touching contaminated objects. When it comes to viral pink eye, it can also result from your toddler’s own body spreading a viral infection, such as the common cold, through mucous membranes.
In contrast, allergic and irritant pink eye are not contagious. They occur when the body reacts to contact with either an external allergen (pollen and pet dander are typical culprits), or to exposure to something that irritates eyes, such as smoke.
Visit an Eye Clinic Near You in Blackfoot, Idaho for Treatment
As soon as you spot the signs of pink eye, book an eye exam with an optometrist near you. Not only will prompt action enable your toddler to get the right treatment to alleviate the discomfort as soon as possible, but it also reduces the chances of your child spreading the infection to other kids and family members. Rule of thumb – untreated pink eye can be contagious for up to two weeks!
After performing an eye exam to determine the type of pink eye, the eye doctor will recommend the most appropriate treatment:
- Typically, bacterial pink eye will be treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointment. Ointments are often easier to apply to little kids’ eyes. Improvement is usually noticeable within a few days, but it’s essential to use the full course of antibiotic therapy as directed by your eye doctor, to make sure the bacterial infection is fully eradicated.
- Viral pink eye can’t be treated with medicine; the virus needs to run its course through the body. But there are some home remedies you can try to relieve the symptoms. Cleaning the eyes regularly with a wet cloth and applying warm or cold compresses on the eyes can both be soothing.
- Your toddler’s optometrist may offer antihistamines to treat allergic pink eye, depending on the severity of the condition. A DIY tip that many people find helpful is to apply a cool compress.
- Irritant pink eye is usually treated by flushing the eyes with clean water to clear out the irritant. The symptoms should then disappear on their own within a short time.
Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Astigmatism, Pink Eye or conjunctivitis Myopia or Nearsightedness , Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Blackfoot eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.What is Blue Light and why is it dangerous?
Book an eye exam at Dennis N. Marshall, OD eye clinic near you in Blackfoot, Idaho to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you. Call 208-216-1500
What exactly is pink eye?
Pink eye is really anything that makes the eye pink. The official term is conjunctivitis, meaning an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the mostly transparent, skinnish like covering over the white of the eye. When the eye is irritated, the conjunctiva swells and blood vessels in it dilate, giving the eye a pink or reddish appearance. Many different agents can lead to this, including bacteria, viruses, allergens, and toxic or mechanical irritants. Treatment and contagion protection depend on the specific cause. Often the cause can be determined based on history, eye appearance with specialized instruments, and symptoms. Viral pinkeye, for example, is typically associated with increased light sensitivity, whereas itching is a key sign in allergic pink eye. There is a good deal of overlap with all kinds, however. Bacterial and viral pinkeye are both contagious, and fairly common. With any pink eye, particularly if it is getting worse, or not getting any better within a day, it’s best to be seen by an eye care practitioner. She or he will have the experience, knowledge and instrumentation to provide the most efficient treatment and recommendations.
What is meant by the term allergic conjunctivitis? Is that the same as “pink eye”?
Allergic conjunctivitis is the clinical term of ocular inflammation of the lining or membrane of the eye, called the conjunctiva, caused by allergic reactions to substances. Although a patient may present with red or pink eyes from excess inflammation, the common term "pink eye"can signify a broad term of conditions and can be misleading, as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other irritating substances can cause redness resembling a "pink eye." Your eye doctor can differentiate between an allergy reaction and a true infection, which can lead to faster healing with proper treatments.
At what age should my child have his/her eyes examined?
Eye exams for children should start between 6 months -1 year old. There is a nation-wide program called InfantSee where participating providers offer a FREE eye exam to children in this age group to make sure the eyes are developing properly. If there are no issues detected, an exam at 3 and 5 years old is sufficient to make sure the eyes are still developing properly for preschool and kindergarten. Since babies & toddlers have no way of knowing if what they see is “normal” and “clear” or not, having a comprehensive eye exam is the best way to ensure their eyes and vision is developing properly. Any ocular issues are best addressed sooner rather than later because 80% of learning takes place through vision in kids!
Does your office treat any eye related problems that children may have?
Any health concern related to the eye and the surrounding area can be taken care of in our office. Red eyes, allergies, blurred vision etc can all be medically related problems, and we can treat them in our office.
Please note: Open once a month on Saturdays, by appointment only (8:30-12:30).