Eye Care During Winter : Colds, Flus, and Pink Eye

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Tips on Eye Care During Winter

With winter coming soon, school and flu shot clinics are raising awareness of the impending cold and flu season, but ophthalmologist say there is one more reason to wash our hands.

Ophthalmologist are reminding parents across the country to help prevent the spread of conjunctivitis, or pink eye, by encouraging children to avoid touching their eyes and washing their hands frequently.

The same sources say that adults and children can help stop the spread by avoiding reusing tissues and changing pillowcases frequently, according to a national ophthalmologist association release.

Conjunctivitis is the swelling of the conjunctiva — the thin layer that lines the inside of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

Pink eye can be either bacterial, viral or caused by an allergic reaction.

While allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious, but bacterial and viral conjunctivitis is contagious and can easily be spread from person to person.

Pink eye symptoms can include a pink or red color in the white of the eye, increased tearing, discharge, an itching or irritating feeling in the eye, crusting on the eyelids and other symptoms similar to a cold or flu.

Doctors say the best way to avoid catching pink eye is to avoid being around those already contaminated and to avoid touching your face and eyes with your hands.

This is especially important during the cold and flu season because hands carry germs that can easily enter the body through the eyes, nose and mouth, she said.

Viral conjunctivitis is often mild and can be caused by a number of different viruses, often ones that also cause the common cold.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is usually mild and can be cleared up without treatment, but topical antibiotics are often prescribed.

Sources say pink eye usually lasts less than a week, but it can take up to two or three weeks for the condition to clear up completely.


Most pink eye requires no medical treatment, but cool compresses to the eyes and anti-allergy eye drops and artificial tears can help relieve symptoms, according to a release from the Minnesota Academy of Ophthalmologists.

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