Preventing the Spread of Pink Eye: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Most people are familiar with pink eye – the bloodshot eyes, the itchy eyelids, gunk on your lashes – but not many people know exactly how contagious pink eye really is. Most pink eye cases are caused by viruses that can’t be medically treated. That means it spreads extremely easily and quickly. Whether you, your child, or someone you know has pink eye, it’s important to take steps to avoid its spread.

What Is Pink Eye?

Pink eye is a redness and inflammation of the clear membranes that cover the whites of your eye and the inner part of your eyelids.
The most common causes of pink eye are bacteria, viruses, and allergens. Pink eye can also come from chemical exposure, foreign bodies in the eye, air pollution from smoke and dust, fungi, and improper contact lens wear (such as wearing your lenses overnight).

Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are highly contagious. The bacteria-related variant is much more common in kids – bacterial conjunctivitis is one of the leading causes of children being absent form daycare or school. So, if your child wakes up with pink eye, blame bacteria.

What Are The Symptoms Of Pink Eye?

Often a case of pink eye will have the following symptoms:

  • Pink or red color in the whites of the eye
  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Urge to rub or itch the eye
  • Feeling like a foreign body is in the eye
  • Increase in tears
  • Mucus or pus discharge
  • Crusting of eyelids or lashes
  • Itching or irritation

Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis will usually start in one eye and may spread to the other.

How Is the Spread of Pink Eye Prevented?

Pink eye is very contagious and can quickly spread from person to person. If you are around someone with pink eye, you can reduce the risk of infection by following a few hygiene tips.

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water after contact with an infected person or items they use
  • If you are caring for someone with pink eye, wash your hands after applying eye drops, changing bed linens, or making any contact with their personal items
  • Be conscious and avoid touching or rubbing your eyes with unwashed hands

If you contract a case of pink eye, there are a few measures you can take to help others avoid infection.

  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water, or hand sanitizer if the former are not available
  • Be careful not to touch or rub your eyes – this is how pink eye spreads from one eye to the other
  • Clean discharge from the eye with washed hands and a clean washcloth or cotton balls.
    • Discard cotton balls and wash washcloths, then wash your hands again.
  • Avoid contact lenses and use glasses until your eye doctor says it’s safe to switch back
  • Do not share personal items such as pillows, towels, makeup or sunglasses
  • Do not use a swimming pool

How Is Pink Eye Treated?

Bacterial pink eye is treated with antibiotics, usually in the form of eye drops, pills, or ointments. It is a good idea to avoid going to work, school or daycare for at least 3-5 days, or until symptoms improve. If you or you child comes down with a case of pink eye, do everyone else a favor by actively working to prevent its spread.

Memorial Day Holiday Hours

Saturday 5/25 – Peoria Office by Appointment Only
All Other Offices Closed

Monday 5/27 – All Offices Closed

Tuesday 5/28 – Resume Normal Hours at All Locations

Illinois Eye Center is open today, 01/23/2024, at all locations.

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Holiday Hours

Saturday, 9/2

Peoria office open by appointment only

(Pekin & Washington are always closed on Saturdays)

Monday, 9/4

All offices closed

Tuesday, 9/5

Peoria & Pekin offices resume normal hours

Note: The Washington office will remain closed for renovations until Monday, Sept 18. 2023