Pink Eye and School

Pink eye Conjunctivitis in a girl's eyeOne thing that was probably a benefit of our kids not being in the actual classroom over the past many months of COVID is that they weren’t spreading pink eye to one another. Yes, this highly contagious condition can make the whites of your kids’ eyes quite bloodshot. 

Clinically known as conjunctivitis, pink eye is an inflammation or swelling of the conjunctiva. It’s a common eye disease, especially in kids. It’s highly contagious, so school is a perfect place to spread it. 

Now that we’re back in class, if your child comes home with the telltale bloodshot eyes, at The Eye Clinic we can help. 

What is conjunctivitis? 

In our eyes, the conjunctiva is a thin layer of transparent tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. When the conjunctiva becomes inflamed by bacteria or a virus, it becomes red and uncomfortable. This is conjunctivitis. There are different kinds, but we usually see the infectious varieties at The Eye Clinic. 

What are the symptoms of pink eye? 

The obvious symptom of conjunctivitis is scary looking whites of the person’s eyes. They appear very red, as if those of a demon in some drive-in horror flick. Beyond the pink eyes, here are the other symptoms: 

  •     A gritty feeling in one or both eyes
  •     Itching or burning sensation in the eyes
  •     Excessive tearing
  •     Discharge
  •     Swollen eyelids
  •     Increased sensitivity to light

What are the types of infectious conjunctivitis? 

Although there are allergic and chemical forms of conjunctivitis, the type of conjunctivitis that rips through schools is the infectious variety. These are the two most common forms: 

  •     Bacterial conjunctivitis — This is usually caused by staphylococcal or streptococcal bacteria from the person’s own skin or respiratory system. It can come from insects, physical contact with other people, touching the eyes with unclean fingers, or sharing makeup, among other reasons.
  •     Viral conjunctivitis — This is most commonly caused by contagious viruses associated with the common cold. It can come from another person’s coughing or sneezing. Forceful nose blowing can cause a cold virus to move from the lungs up to the eyes.

Treating pink eye 

The bacterial variety is treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointments. The symptoms improve in three to four days, but the full course of the antibiotic needs to be finished to prevent recurrence. 

Viral conjunctivitis simply has to run its course, like the common cold that it probably came from. Symptoms can be relieved with cold compresses and artificial tears. If symptoms are really bad, we may prescribe steroid eyedrops to limit inflammation. 

Does your child have pink eye? Call us at The Eye Clinic, (503) 297-4718, and let’s take a look.

Posted in: Conjunctivitis

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