It can be highly contagious, but doctors say pink eye is preventable. It can be caused by allergies or fungal infections.
“Pink eye is inflammation of the covering of the eye, so the globe of the eye, and also the inside of the eye lids,” said primary care physician Dr. Alfred Gitu.
Pink eye is very contagious and can be quickly spread by direct contact. “Somebody has pink eye and we have direct contact with them, we get it on our hand, and then we touch our face. Also sharing personal products or personal things like towels, makeup, that sort of thing. First we will spread it to ourselves, so one eye then the other eye. Then to our family members, friends and colleagues,” said Dr. Gitu.
If a child or family member has pink eye, doctors say there are ways to prevent getting it, by washing your hands and avoiding sharing things like towels and makeup. “Even though we call it pink eye, really the eye looks red. It may start, if it’s allergic, it always starts in both eyes. If it’s an infection it usually will start on one side and then spread to the other eye,” said Dr. Gitu.
Other signs of pink eye could be tearing or discharge in the eye. “There may be swelling around the eyelids, sometimes it’s tender around the eye, and commonly you can get blurring of vision,” said Dr. Gitu.
While doctors may prescribe eye drops to help ease the symptoms, typically pink eye goes away on its own. “It’s self-limited. You don’t have to treat it. You don’t have to do anything really but maybe warm compresses,” said Dr. Gitu.
It’s common for children to get pink eye first and spread it to other members in the family, making it important to try to keep the child’s hands clean and limit sharing until the infection is gone.
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