Photo from WebMD

Photo from WebMD

Pink eye may sound like a new make-up trend – but it’s actually one of the most contagious eye diseases on the block.  Pink eye – or more officially, conjunctivitis – is an especially common condition among schoolchildren.  In fact, a recent study published in the American Journal of Infection Control showed that over 164 million school days are missed each year due to infectious diseases – and pink eye accounted for three million of those days.

Whether you’re the parent of a young schoolchild or a college student getting ready for dorm life, it’s important to protect your ocular health from conjunctivitis.  There are 2 types of conjunctivitis, Infectious and Allergic.  Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious.  Infectious conjunctivitis, whether bacterial or viral, is highly contagious, so a bit of good hygiene can go a long way in preventing the spread of conjunctivitis.  You should:

  1. Wash your hands whenever possible. Conjunctivitis is spread through contact with an infected person or surface; therefore, only hand soap and warm water can kill any bacterial germs picked up in the classroom.  You may even want to carry around anti-bacterial hand gel for quick hand cleaning.
  1. Avoid touching your eyes at all times. Bacterial infections are easily spread via the fingers.  Throughout the day, your fingers touch a variety of dirty surfaces.  If you then touch your eyes, you’re just making it easier for pink eye to find its way to your eyes.  If you have young children, teach them not to touch or rub their eyes.
  1. Change your pillowcase frequently, especially if you’ve had pink eye before. In fact, wash everything you touched when you had pink eye – it’s that easy to pick up again.
  1. Make sure you stay isolated when suffering from pink eye. People who go to classes or daycare before they’ve completed their pink eye treatment risk spreading the contagion to others.  Do yourself a favor and wait for the infection to dissipate before going to school.

If you or your children are suffering from allergic conjunctivitis, a variety of eyedrops can help relieve symptoms.  Antibiotic eyedrops are typically used to treat bacterial conjunctivitis.

To treat your pink eye effectively, schedule an appointment with Dr. Jacqueline Griffiths at NewView Eye Center in Reston, VA.  NewView Eye Center also serves the greater Washington DC and Northern Virginia area. To learn more just fill out the form in the top left corner or call 703-834-9777.