What is Pink Eye?

Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is an inflammation of the clear membrane that covers the eye and the inner part of the eyelid. It is a common condition, and easily treatable and usually causes no long-term damage.

Pink eye causes the inner lining of the eyelids and sclera (the white part of the eye) to become alarmingly red. The child may wake up with discharge or crustiness in their eye(s). Usually, it feels like there is an irritation in the eye.

Allergies, bacteria or a virus may cause pink eye. Viral and bacterial pink eye are both highly contagious and spread very easily. Since most cases of pink eye are viral, for which there is usually no medical treatment, preventing its spread is important. Good hand-washing and avoiding touching eyes is the best way to prevent spread.

Only a physician can diagnose viral versus bacterial conjunctivitis. Below is a chart for reference only. It is not intended to replace evaluation by a doctor.

If your pink eye is caused by a common viral infection and no other complications occur, then your eyes should clear up within a few days to two weeks. Pink eye also can be caused by bacterial conjunctivitis, which — even with treatment such as prescription antibiotic eye drops — can last up to a month or longer.

Pink eye (conjunctivitis) generally remains contagious as long as your child is experiencing tearing and matted eyes. When tearing and matted eyes are no longer present, it's appropriate for a child to return to school or child care. If your doctor determines it to be bacterial conjunctivitis, and prescribes antibiotic drops, they can return to school the next day.

Call our office if you have any questions — (818) 767-8382, ext. 240.