Yep. It’s that time of year again. Sniffling, sneezing, coughing and pink eye abounds. It’s that last one that strikes fear into every mother and school teacher. Why do cases of pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, increase as the temperatures decrease? Many doctors suspect that it’s due to spending more time indoors where people are in closer contact with each other. Read on to find out how to protect yourself and your family.

pink eyeHOW DO WE GET PINK EYE? The process is simple: someone with a cold touches their nose or mouth. They then touch an object, like a door knob. Unsuspectingly, we come along, touch that same object and then touch our eyes. Bam! We’re contaminated. At first, the symptoms start in one eye – redness, watery, colored discharge, blurred vision, stinging and irritation are the most common complaints. These symptoms can last from one to two weeks.

PREVENTION. After you know the mechanism of how it’s transmitted from person to person, prevention is simple. If you’re around someone who has, or may have, pink eye:
  • Wash your hands before touching your eyes, mouth or nose
  • Do not share items used by an infected person: for example, makeup, pillows, towels
Keep in mind that the infected person is contagious until their eyes look and feel back to normal. If you are infected:
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Wash pillows, towels, etc
  • Stop using contact lenses until okayed by your doctor
  • Don’t use swimming pools
  • Replace all makeup; used contact lenses, solutions and cases once you’ve recovered
See your eye doctor if you suspect you have pink eye. I highly recommend that you see an eye doctor rather than a primary care doctor due to the tricky nature of the condition. Your eye doctor should be able to tell if you have a bacterial or a viral infection. Pray that you have the bacterial version because your doctor can prescribe an antibiotic eye drop that will cure you in just a few days. The viral version is very similar to the common cold, which can’t be treated with antibiotics. Plan on just letting the viral infection run it’s course over a week or two.