The Patient's Guide to Pink Eye10:45 AM
Red, watery, matted shut in the morning, and just uncomfortable. "Pink Eye" as we so affectionately label an infection or inflammation the eye is so common this type of year, I am averaging a few cases a week. But for such a common ocular ailment, it is surprising how little the average person really knows about it. For curious minds, here is what you are really dealing with:
|A classic viral conjunctivitis (or pink eye) appearance via|
- Red eye with watery discharge (thick mucus discharge is more typically bacterial)
- Starts in one eye and spreads to the other within a few days
- May have swollen lymph nodes, a recent cold, or recent interaction with someone who was sick
- Typically seen in children or people who are around children in their daily life
Most of my patients that go to a walk-in clinic, or even their primary care provider get prescribed a low-strength generic antibiotic for their viral conjunctivitis, and they aren't really educated as to why the doctor is writing this Rx. The antibiotic won't kill the viral infection. But your doctor doesn't have any medicine they can give you anyway, and antibiotics are cheap. The best they can hope to do with an antibiotic is to prevent a secondary bacterial infection (unlikely) but really, it is typically prescribed as just a "that's all I can do" mentality. It can't really hurt, and they don't have anything that can really help. This idea of "not hurting" though is debatable with all the recent data of antibiotic resistance, but I digress.
|Personally, I think this borders on false advertising,|
but if you read the fine print they never promise any
more than just "symptom relief". Most people
just see "pink eye" on the box and think they are
getting some sort of medicinal treatment incorrectly.
It's really our job as the doctor to educate
the limits of these OTC drops.
If you are a contact lens wearer, it is best to avoid lens wear while you are infected, not just for your own comfort but because bathing the contact lens in viral cells all day long, which in turn just locks those viral cells against your eye's surface with nowhere to go, is just going to keep you infected longer.