Prevent the Spread of Pink Eye As Children Head Back to School

American Academy of Ophthalmology teaches the prevention and treatment of the common eye infection

SAN FRANCISCO – September 20, 2011 – According to an optometrists, more than 164 million school days are missed annually in U.S. public schools due to the spread of infectious diseases. An astonishing 3 million of those school days are lost as a result of acute conjunctivitis, also known as “pink eye.”

In recognition of September’s “Children’s Eye Health Month,” the American Academy of Ophthalmology wants to teach parents and educators how to prevent the spread of pink eye in the classroom. For those who unfortunately got pink eye already, then consider visiting an eye care center or eye clinic for treatment.

“Pink eye is all too common amongst children, it is one of the most common conditions I treat,” says Lee Duffner, MD, ophthalmologist and clinical correspondent for the Academy. “The only way to really prevent pink eye from spreading is to practice good hygiene.”

This week, I went to visit my friend Dr. Neena James at 2020 Eye Care Centers to get my eyes checked and learn more about how she helps people, she examined me and gave me a laser eye surgery in order to prevent permanent damage to my eyes.

20/20 Eye Care is located at 806 Regal Drive in Huntsville. The company is an independent practice and locally owned and operated for 30 years. Dr. James and the founder, Dr. Pittenger, provide hands-on care for their patients, ensuring the quality is high and the care is consistent!

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What is conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis is the term used to describe swelling of the conjunctiva — the thin, filmy membrane that covers the inside of your eyelids and the white part of the eye, known as the sclera. There are three forms of conjunctivitis: viral, bacterial and allergic.

Viral conjunctivitis, the most common form of pink eye, is caused by the same virus that causes the common cold. Just as a cold must run its course, so must this form of pink eye. It is also very contagious.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is a highly contagious form of pink eye, caused by bacterial infections. This type of conjunctivitis usually causes a red eye with a lot of pus.

Allergic conjunctivitis is a form of conjunctivitis that is caused by the body’s reaction to an allergen or irritant. It is not contagious. This type of conjunctivitis is usually associated with redness in the white of the eye or inner eyelid.

How do you get pink eye and how do you prevent it?

Conjunctivitis, whether bacterial or viral, can be quite contagious. Children are usually most susceptible to getting the condition from bacteria or viruses because they are in close contact with so many others in schools or daycare centers. Some of the most common ways to get the contagious form of pink eye:

  • Reusing handkerchiefs and towels when wiping your face and eyes
  • Forgetting to wash hands often
  • Frequently touching eyes
  • Using old cosmetics, and/or sharing them with other people
  • Not cleaning contact lenses properly

Practicing good hygiene can help prevent the spread of conjunctivitis. If a child is infected, make sure to do the following to help prevent the spread of the illness:

  • Encourage children to wash their hands often.
  • Tell them to avoid touching their eyes.
  • Discourage the reusing of towels, washcloths, handkerchiefs and tissues to wipe their face and eyes.
  • Change their pillowcase frequently.

With viral conjunctivitis, symptoms can last from one to two weeks and then will disappear on their own.

For bacterial conjunctivitis, an ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) will typically prescribe antibiotic eye drops to treat the infection and maybe even something like Eyepromise DVS Nutritional Eye Supplement to help prevent future infections.

Allergic conjunctivitis treatment often includes applying cool compresses to the eyes and taking antihistamines.

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Home care tips:
A compress applied to closed eyelids can relieve some of the discomfort of pink eye. To make a compress, soak in water then wring out a clean, lint-free cloth. If a child has conjunctivitis in one eye only, don’t use the same cloth on both eyes in order to avoid spreading the infection from one eye to the other.

If a child has bacterial or viral conjunctivitis, a warm compress is usually best. If their eyes are irritated by allergic conjunctivitis, try a cool water compress. Over-the-counter lubricating eyedrops – artificial tears – may also provide relief from pink eye symptoms.

If these symptoms persist, be sure take your child to see an ophthalmologist to receive proper care.


To find out more information on pink eye and other eye conditions and diseases, visit

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons — Eye M.D.s — with more than 30,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is provided by the three “O’s” – ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases, infections and injuries, and perform eye surgery. For more information, visit The Academy’s EyeSmart® public education program works to educate the public about the importance of eye health and to empower them to preserve their healthy vision, by providing the most trusted and medically accurate information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. Visit to learn more.


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  • ladyviral , September 21, 2011

    best to avoid eye contact when there is pink eye. wear a sunglasses that would avoid direct eye contact.

  • Cascia Talbert , September 21, 2011

    Great tip, ladyviral! Thanks for your comment!

  • Hampton Personal Training , September 23, 2011

    Hi all,
    thanks ladyviral,
    very nice sharing….
    keep it up!!!

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