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Pink Eye

Exams and Tests for Pink Eye

A history and a physical exam usually leads to a diagnosis of pink eye. If a bacterial infection is possible, your eye doctor may send some of the drainage from your eye to the laboratory to help identify the bacteria. Do not be alarmed if a more extensive physical exam is required to search for other causes of conjunctivitis.

Pink Eye Treatment at Home

Prevent spreading pink eye to the other eye and to other people. Pink eye can be very contagious, so limit your contacts until you are better.

  • Carefully wash your hands every time you touch around your eye.
  • Keep your own towels, washcloths, and pillows separate from others or use paper towels.
  • Wash or change your pillowcase every day until the infection goes away.
  • Do not touch your infected eye with your fingers. Use tissues to wipe.
  • Do not wear eye makeup. Do not share eye makeup.
  • Do not wear contact lenses until the infection is gone.
  • Put a warm compress, such as a washcloth soaked in warm water, on your eye for a few minutes, three to four times a day. This eases the pain and helps break up some of the crust that may form on your eyelashes.
  • Use over-the-counter artificial tears to help with itching and irritation. Do not share eye drops. You can spread the infection to anyone else who uses them.
  • Do not put a patch over your eye. It may cause the infection to become worse.
  • Do not use eye drops for more than a few days unless instructed to do so by your eye doctor. Worsening redness could result from repeated use of such products.

Medical Treatment for Pink Eye

If you have pink eye, your eye doctor may prescribe an eye drop or ointment to help control the swelling and pain and to help prevent spread of the infection and further damage to your eye.

  • Antibiotic eye drops or ointments may be prescribed, as well as ocular decongestants, anti-allergy medicines, or anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Oral or intravenous antibiotics may be used if a sexually transmitted disease is thought to be the cause.
  • Rarely, you may need to be admitted to the hospital for intravenous antibiotics and supportive care.


Follow-Up Care for Pink Eye

Your eye doctor may have you return in several days to make sure your pink eye is improving with the medication prescribed.

Many children with pink eye are not allowed to attend school until they receive clearance from their doctor.

Hospital workers with pink eye who come in contact with people who are sick may be placed in another job until the infection is gone.

Pink Eye Prevention

Pink eye can spread in areas where people live, work, and play closely together. If you are around someone with pink eye, wash your hands thoroughly and often.

  • Daycare and preschools will often not take a child with pink eye for fear of infecting other children.
  • Laboratories where people share microscopes are also places where infection can spread.
  • People who share computer keyboards with others at work must be careful to wash their hands before they touch around their faces, especially during cold and flu season.
  • Bedding, towels, and personal items that come in contact with secretions should not be shared. Wash and change sheets and pillowcases every day.
  • Makeup should not be shared.
  • Eye drops should not be shared among individuals; otherwise, the infection can spread.

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