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Located on W. Drake Rd. in Ft. Collins West of Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital

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Home » Your Eye Health » Conditions » Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

However, the term “pink eye” is often used to refer to any or all types of conjunctivitis, not just its acute, contagious form.

Signs and symptoms of pink eye

How can you tell what type of pink eye you have? The way your eyes feel will provide some clues:

  • Viral conjunctivitis usually causes excessive eye watering and a light discharge.
  • Bacterial conjunctivitis often causes a thick, sticky discharge, sometimes greenish.
  • Allergic conjunctivitis affects both eyes and causes itching and redness in the eyes and sometimes the nose, as well as excessive tearing.
  • Giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC) usually affects both eyes and causes contact lens intolerance, itching, a heavy discharge, tearing and red bumps on the underside of the eyelids.

To pinpoint the cause and then choose an appropriate treatment, your eye doctor will ask some questions, examine your eyes and possibly collect a sample on a swab to send out for analysis.

What causes pink eye?

Though pink eye can affect people of any age, it is especially common among preschoolers and school children because of the amount of bacteria transferred among children.

Conjunctivitis may also be triggered by a virus, an allergic reaction (to dust, pollen, smoke, fumes or chemicals) or, in the case of giant papillary conjunctivitis, a foreign body on the eye, typically a contact lens. Bacterial and viral infections elsewhere in the body may also induce conjunctivitis.

Treatment of pink eye

Avoidance. Your first line of defense is to avoid the cause of conjunctivitis, such as contaminated hand towels. Both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis, which can be caused by airborne sources, spread easily to others.

To avoid allergic conjunctivitis, keep windows and doors closed on days when the airborne pollen count is high. Dust and vacuum frequently to eliminate potential allergens in the home.

Stay in well-ventilated areas if you’re exposed to smoke, chemicals or fumes. If you do experience exposure to these substances, cold compresses over your closed eyes can be very soothing.

If you’ve developed giant papillary conjunctivitis, odds are that you’re a contact lens wearer. You’ll need to stop wearing your contact lenses, at least for a little while. Your eye doctor may also recommend that you switch to a different type of contact lens, to reduce the chance of the conjunctivitis coming back.

Medication. Unless there’s some special reason to do so, eye doctors don’t normally prescribe medication for viral conjunctivitis, because it usually clears up on its own within a few days. Your eye doctor might prescribe an astringent to keep your eyes clean, to prevent a bacterial infection from starting. Another common prescription is for artificial tears, to relieve dryness and discomfort.

Antibiotic eyedrops or ointments will alleviate most forms of bacterial conjunctivitis, while antibiotic tablets are used for certain infections that originate elsewhere in the body.

Antihistamine allergy pills or eyedrops will help control allergic conjunctivitis symptoms. In addition, artificial tears provide comfort, but they also protect the eye’s surface from allergens and dilute the allergens that are present in the tear film.

For giant papillary conjunctivitis, your doctor may prescribe eyedrops to reduce inflammation and itching.

Usually conjunctivitis is a minor eye infection. But sometimes it can develop into a more serious condition. See your eye doctor for a diagnosis before using any eye drops in your medicine cabinet from previous infections or eye problems.

Prevention tips

Because young children often are in close contact in day care centers and school rooms, it can be difficult to avoid the spread of bacteria causing pink eye. However, these tips can help concerned parents, day care workers and teachers reduce the possibility of a pink eye outbreak in institutional environments:

  • Adults in school and day care centers should wash their hands frequently and encourage children to do the same. Soap should always be available for hand washing.
  • Personal items, including hand towels, should never be shared at school or at home.
  • Encourage children to use tissues and cover their mouths and noses when they sneeze or cough.
  • Discourage eye rubbing and touching, to avoid spread of bacteria and viruses.
  • For about three to five days, children (and adults) diagnosed with pink eye should avoid crowded conditions where the infection could easily spread.
  • Use antiseptic and/or antibacterial solutions to clean and wipe surfaces that children or adults come in contact with, such as common toys, table tops, drinking fountains, sink/faucet handles, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

As of Tuesday evening, March 17th, the CDC has recommended that all routine eye care be deferred until further notice, in order to slow the transmission of COVID-19 through our community. We will follow their recommendations and close our office to regular eye exams until further notice.

Please be assured that we are still available to triage all urgent and emergent issues as well as help you with routine matters during this challenging time.

What does this mean?

1) If you are scheduled for an annual eye examination our office will contact you to reschedule
2) If you need to replace glasses or contact lenses and need an extension on your prescription, please contact us and we will assist you in obtaining some until you can come in for a visit.
3) If you are running out of medication please contact us and we can transmit a refill electronically to your pharmacy.
4) If you have an ocular emergency we are, as always, available to help you at any time. Call us at 970-221-4811.
5) If you have an issue that cannot wait for an office visit, contact us and we will schedule a FaceTime, Skype or telephone appointment with one of our doctors. Medicare has temporarily relaxed its telehealth rules to allow this type of communication during the pandemic crisis. Other insurers may follow suit and allow for reimbursement of virtual care costs. The consultation must be initiated at your request.
6) During this period of social distancing and quarantine, we must all do our part by restricting activities outside the home except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
7) Please remember that 80% of COVID-19 cases are mild and resolve within a week. However, if you feel your symptoms are worsening, call ahead before visiting your doctor’s office or emergency department and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients.

The CDC has many wonderful resources. Arming yourself and your family with clear information will help you avoid undue stress.https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html

We have asked our staff to stay home until further notice to protect them, our patients, our city, our nation, and our planet. Despite the financial and emotional hardships this will cause, we ask every one of you to do the same.

Together we will weather this storm.

With sincerest wishes for your continued good health, we remain at your service,

Eyecare Associates