Take Steps To Prevent Pinkeye

Pinkeye, or conjunctivitis, can be bacterial or viral, and both versions are very contagious. Here's how to keep from getting it.


With children back in school and in contact with so many other kids, many parents want to prevent communicable illnesses, including pink eye.

“Parents often worry about pink eye because it is so common among school-aged children,” says David Mittelman, M.D., an ophthalmologist in Park Ridge and a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

“Just like many other infections, parents can take control to help prevent pink eye with a few simple hygiene tips.”

It's worth the effort, because the American Academy of Opthalmology says more than 3 million school days are missed each year in U.S public schools due to the spread of pink eye.

To stop it, the Academy and its EyeSmart program are arming parents and teachers with information about pink eye.

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Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the thin, filmy membrane that covers the inside of the eyelids and white part of the eye (called the sclera). It can be caused by viral infections, bacterial infections and allergic reactions. It is most often caused by the same virus that causes the common cold. Both bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are very contagious and easily spread by runny noses or eye secretions- usually through hand to eye contact.

To prevent spreading or catching pink eye, follow these EyeSmart tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Do not touch your eyes
  • Do not reuse handkerchiefs or towels when wiping your face and eyes
  • Change pillowcases frequently
  • Do not use old cosmetics or share makeup
  • Maintain proper contact lens care and cleaning 

If you or your child has viral or bacterial pink eye, ease the discomfort by applying a warm compress to closed eyelids. Then, wash your hands thoroughly. Symptoms of viral conjunctivitis last up to two weeks and disappear on their own. For bacterial conjunctivitis, an ophthalmologist (Eye M.D) may prescribe antibiotic eye drops. If symptoms persist, take your child to an ophthalmologist to ensure they get proper treatment.

For more information about pink eye and other children’s eye health information, visitwww.geteyesmart.org.

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