Watch Out: It’s Pink Eye Season!

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I saw the text message and almost panicked. My father-in-law, whom we had spent the entire previous day with, was at the optometrist’s office with pink eye. Oh no! Immediately my eyes started to itch (due to the power of suggestion not an infection, luckily). Would we be next?

Conjunctivitis (pink eye’s proper name) has to be one of the most uncomfortable eye afflictions out there. Though relatively harmless to your long-term eye health if treated properly, a bad case of conjunctivitis can keep you homebound and wearing your glasses for up to a week.

How do you know if you’ve got full-fledged pink eye or if your eyes are just a little irritated from a poor night’s sleep?

Let me assure you, you’ll know! True conjunctivitis comes with goo. That’s the most pleasant way I can describe it. If your conjunctivitis develops overnight, often you will wake up with an eye that is stuck shut or that has excessive gunk running out of it. Your eyes will feel sticky and uncomfortable. For me, the “pinkness” on the inside has been the least of my concerns. A true case of pink eye will include an eye that is swollen looking and filled with mucous.

Oh, and the reason I feared for my family’s eye health after hearing that a grandpa had conjunctivitis is that…

It’s contagious.

Not just a little contagious. We are talking extremely contagious. If a person with pink eye rubs his or her eye and then touches the doorknob and you follow behind them touching the same doorknob and then rub your eye a few minutes later, presto! You are going to end up with that gunk sometime in the next 24 hours, almost guaranteed.

So, how do you fight the conjunctivitis monster?

Well, the best thing to do is to seek treatment right away. A quick visit to your optometrist’s office should result in a prescription for some antibiotic drops. Once you start these drops, the symptoms should clear up in a few days. But, most importantly, your ability to infect those around you dissipates after about 24 hours. Some doctors recommend putting the drops in both eyes, even if only one is infected, so that you don’t spread it from one eye to another inadvertently. It will be up to your optometrist to recommend this if necessary.

And, just like with every germ out there, the best defense includes good hand washing and avoiding touching your face.

If you have any other questions about conjunctivitis or think you may be experiencing an unpleasant case of it, call your closest America’s Best optometrist today.

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