Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

Conjunctivitis is redness and irritation of the white part of the eye (sclera). It can be from a number of conditions that can cause the eye to be red, including: bacteria with sticky pus draining from the eye, a virus which typically does not have any drainage, an allergy with puffiness and itching, and irritants like a well-chlorinated swimming pool. Sometimes a foreign body, like dirt or a wood chip, may get into the eye and cause redness.

Both bacterial and viral “pink eye” are contagious by touch. We will prescribe antibiotic eye drops (or ointment) for bacterial infections. Your child will need to be out of school for 24 hours for bacterial conjunctivitis.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is the ONLY conjunctivitis that needs to be treated with antibiotic drops or ointment. These drops can be put in your child’s eye by pulling the lower lid down and putting the drops inside the lower lid, or by having your child lay down with their eyes squeezed shut as you put 2-3 drops on the inner corner of the eye since the drops will drip in as your child re-opens their eyes.

For an allergic or irritant conjunctivitis, we may prescribe drops to alleviate the itching or redness. To help us rule out a foreign body, we may look at your child’s eye with a special fluorescent light.

Babies can get blocked tear ducts with intermittent pus coming out from one eye. This type of discharge is not contagious. It tends to come and go for up to a year. Occasionally, we may prescribe antibiotic drops to help the discharge. We may also show you how to massage the tear duct to help keep the tears flowing the correct direction.

Reasons to call the doctor immediately:

  • If your child develops any vision changes
  • Any extreme sensitivity to light
  • Any cold sores near the eye
  • If your child develops any high fever with redness around the eye
  • If you child is in extreme pain