According to the American Journal of Infection Control, 3 million school days are missed annually in U.S. public schools due to acute conjunctivitis, also known as “pink eye.” In recognition of September’s Children’s Eye Health Month, the doctors at Grin Eye Care want to remind parents and educators how to identify and prevent the spread of pink eye in the classroom.
What is Pink Eye?
Conjunctivitis is the swelling of the conjunctiva—the thin, filmy membrane that covers the inside of the eyelids and the white part of the eye (the sclera). There are three forms of conjunctivitis:
- Viral Pink Eye | Viral conjunctivitis is the most common form of pink eye and often presents with red, watery eyes. It is caused by the same virus that causes the common cold and is very contagious. Medication is typically not prescribed, as the virus just needs to run its course.
- Bacterial Pink Eye | Bacterial conjunctivitis is also highly contagious. The most common signs are red eyes, mucous discharge and eyelids matted shut in the morning.
- Allergic Pink Eye | Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by the body’s reaction to an allergen or irritant and is not contagious. It’s usually associated with eye redness, itching, and watering, and it typically affects both eyes.
How do you get Pink Eye?
Both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis can be quite contagious. Children are usually more susceptible to getting the condition because they are in close contacts with so many other children in schools, daycare, and extracurricular activities. Here are some of the most common ways to contract pink eye:
- Reusing tissues when wiping your face or eyes
- Forgetting to wash hands
- Frequently touching or rubbing eyes
- Using old cosmetics or sharing them with other people
- Not cleaning contact lenses properly
- Sharing items with someone who has a cold
How do you Prevent Pink Eye?
The best way to prevent conjunctivitis is by practicing good hygiene. Here are some easy tips to share with your kids and to practice at home:
- Wash your hands often
- Do not share pencils, toys or food with someone who has a cold
- Avoid touching or rubbing eyes
- Use antiseptic cleaning products to clean toys, desks, tabletops, door & faucet handles, etc.
- Wash and change pillowcases frequently
- Do not over wear contact lenses and remember to change out cleaning solution daily
The good news is conjunctivitis is a common an easily treated problem, which generally has no lasting side effects. However, if you feel you or your child may be coming down with pink eye, be sure to give our office a call, and one of our board-certified doctors will be happy to evaluate and treat the problem at one of our offices in Olathe, KS, or Leawood, KS.
Here’s to a happy, healthy and (fingers crossed), pink eye-free school year!