Common Eye Infections – Signs and Treatment

Is your child in daycare? Then it’s probably just a matter of time before she comes home with a case of the highly contagious, pink eye.

If your child comes home from school or daycare with an itchy, red eye, then beware. She likely has the common, and very contagious eye infection, conjunctivitis. Also known as pink eye, it is usually accompanied by a thick, yellow discharge, often crusting the eyes shut in the morning. Pink eye can be viral or bacterial in nature. Viral infections are self-limiting and need to run their course, whereas bacterial infections require antibiotic eye-drops. The only way to know for certain whether your child’s eye infection is bacterial or viral is to have her seen by her doctor.

The good news is that while pink eye is uncomfortable, it is rarely serious. Pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Roy Cline elaborates. “Conjunctivitis is an infection of the eye surface. Normally it should be nice and white. But if it’s red and swollen with discharge, it’s usually caused by the same type of virus that causes an upper-respiratory condition. And when it comes in that combination then you have pink eye.”

If your child has pink eye then you may want to keep your child away from school or daycare until the infection has cleared, so as not to pass it around to other children. Also it’s advisable to avoid sharing towels, and avoid touching the eye area. As Dr. Cline explains “it’s a very contagious disorder and really requires children to be meticulous about hand-washing. It’s spread by tear drops so you don’t want a child touching back and forth.”

Overall, it is wise to have any problems with eyes or vision assessed by a doctor. Finally, if your child’s eye infection is accompanied by a fever, swelling and a general sense of malaise, do have your child seen by a physician immediately, as this may require prompt treatment.


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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