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Pink Eye in Children

What is Pink Eye?

Pink eye or conjunctivitis, is one of the most common childhood eye problems. With conjunctivitis, the eye or eyes turn pink because the conjunctiva, the moist tissue on the whites of the eyes and underneath the eyelids, is inflamed. This leads to tearing, swelling, redness and, in the case of infection, discharge. Bacterial and viral pink eye are extremely contagious and account for millions of lost school days each year. Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious and is merely an itchy reaction to an allergen. 

Related resource: Does your child have pink eye or allergies?

Pink Eye Prevention

Pink eye is spread very easily by contact with the tears and with discharge from an infected person’s eye. It is highly important to keep hands clean and away from the eyes and to wash all cloths, napkins and towels used to wipe the infected eyes. People can also infect themselves by rubbing their eyes or using the same contact lenses and contact lens solution repeatedly. It is up to parents to make sure that their kids practice excellent hygiene to avoid spreading the disease to family and friends once it is detected. 

Pink Eye in Babies

Pink eye is a common infection in babies, but it can also be very serious. If you notice any symptoms of pink eye in a baby, get them to an eye doctor right away. Pink eye presents the same symptoms in babies as in adults, but there are some additional signs to watch out for. Aside from pinkness in the whites of one or both of the eyes, the lower rim of a baby’s eyelid can also turn red, which is an important symptom to track. Babies can also experience a chemical form of conjunctivitis in response to eye drops that all babies are given at birth to prevent infection. If a baby’s eyes are swollen, red and full of tears, it could be a reaction to the eye drops and will clear in a few days. Finally, many babies are born with blocked tear ducts, which can lead to the same symptoms as pink or can lead to conjunctivitis. Take your baby to the eye doctor for confirmation, and they may recommend gently massaging the area beneath the baby’s eyes until the blockage is cleared.

What to do if you think your child has pink eye?

If your child is showing signs of bacterial or viral conjunctivitis call us. Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are the infectious forms of pink eye, and these are the ones that need to be monitored closely. Although very treatable, these conditions could have adverse effects on vision if not treated quickly and well. Always consult with an eye doctor if symptoms arise or advance in unpredictable ways.