Pink eye might look and sound scary, but it is a common and easily treatable eye irritation. Also called conjunctivitis, pink eye most commonly affects those working in close proximity with one another. While anyone can get pink eye, schoolchildren, college students, teachers, and daycare workers are at a higher risk.
What is pink eye?
Pink eye is inflammation in the clear covering on the white part of the eye. It is a highly contagious viral infection caused by several types of viruses.
Symptoms of pink eye
- Pink appearance in the eye
- Watery eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Sticky eye discharge
- Waking up with eyes stuck shut
What causes pink eye?
Viral conjunctivitis is very contagious and is caused by a virus, such as the common cold. Typically, this will clear up on its own after a few days.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria entering the eye and must be treated by a doctor.
Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by individual allergy irritants, which could include pollen, dust, and animal dander. Every person has differing allergies, symptoms, and flare up times so this typically occurs during the peak of their allergy season.
Tips for preventing pink eye
- Do not share washcloths, hand towels, or tissues.
- Never share contact lenses (prescription, colored, or special effect).
- Cover your mouth when coughing.
- Wash your hands, often.
- Use hand disinfectants or hand sanitizers frequently.
- Clean shared surfaces such as counters, door handles, faucet handles, and phones.
- Properly clean your contact lens.
- Wear swim goggles to prevent bacteria from entering your eyes.
- Before going into the water of any kind, remove your contact lenses. This will prevent bacteria from getting trapped between the lens and your eye.
Pink Eye Q&A
How long does pink eye last?
This depends on the type of infection you have, but typically it lasts anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. If you experience prolonged discomfort or suspect you have pink eye, give us a call to schedule your next appointment today.
How long is pink eye contagious for?
If the pink eye is caused by virus or bacteria it can be contagious for several days to several weeks.
How long should I wait to return to work or school after pink eye?
Typically, you may return once the obvious signs of pink eye are gone. This can take anywhere from 3 to 7 days. Check with the facility to see if they have specific requirements for returning after experiencing pink eye.
Is there a way to avoid pink eye if someone else in my house has the infection?
The best way to avoid contracting pink eye in close quarters is to clean all surfaces touched by the infected individual, frequently wash your hands, and avoid sharing washcloths and towels. This doesn’t guarantee you won’t get pink eye but can help to prevent it.
Do I need to come to the doctor if I think I have pink eye?
Yes, it is always recommended you, or your family, visit our office if you have any type of eye infection.