Ross' Blog

Viral Conjunctivitis - Pink Eye

Viral conjunctivitis better known as ‘Pink Eye’ is a common and highly contagious eye condition. Typically pink eye is spread in environments where people have close contact with one another like schools, offices, buses, airplanes and daycares. Infections develop through direct contact with a person who is already infected with the virus. There is some belief that pink eye can also be transmitted through swimming pools. Due to the high contagiousness of the condition whole families can develop pink eye if one member of the household becomes infected.

How do I know if I have a viral conjunctivitis or pink eye? Symptoms for pink eye are typically very classic in presentation. Patients usually report a sudden onset of eye irritation, red eyes, light sensitivity and excessive tearing. Eyes do not look blood shot, but have a general pink hue to them that covers the entire white of the eye. Typically pink eye begins in only one eye, but quickly spreads to the other eye because of people rubbing their eyes.

What can be done for pink eye? Because pink eye is a viral infection, antibiotics are not effective at treating the problem. For mild pink eye infections, cold compresses and bland lubricating eye drops such as Systane Ultra are the primary treatment, along with good personal hygiene. Vasoconstrictor eye drops such as Visine used to whiten eyes often have minimal benefit in these cases and should be avoided in general. If you have a more severe form of pink eye, occasionally your optometrist will prescribe topical anti-inflammatory medications such as steroids.

Although most viral conjunctivitis eye infections do not require a trip to your eye doctor, you should seek the assistance of your optometrist if you ever experience pain or blurred vision or if your condition seems to be worsening. A trip to your optometrists office for viral conjunctivitis is usually covered under Alberta Health Care.