Your child woke up and his eye won’t open because it is swollen and filled with crust and pus. It’s not the most pleasant sight first thing in the morning, and not the most enjoyable feeling for your child. Unfortunately, your child has probably contracted conjunctivitis and it’s all too common with children.
Conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, is when the lining of one of both eyes becomes swollen and infected. Usually this happens overnight and is what leads to the morning crust and discomfort.
Common symptoms of pinkeye:
- Eye redness
- Eyelid swelling and redness
- Blurred vision
- Crust that forms on the eyelid overnight
- Sensitivity to lights
- Increased tearing
- A gritty feeling in the eye
- Discharge from the eye
Most of the time pinkeye is caused by a virus or bacteria, but it can also be caused by allergies, dry eyes or if a foreign object or chemical went in the eye. Since pinkeye is very contagious and easily transferred from person to person it is important for not only the infected person, but also those around them, to constantly wash their hands.
One way that pinkeye can be spread is when the eye is touched and the same hand is used to touch an object, such as a door handle, and then touch your eye. Another way it can be spread is if the same hand is used to touch the nose then the eye. Towels and face clothes should not be shared because but pinkeye can be easily contracted. Towels, face clothes, pillows and sheets should be washed to get rid of the germs.
A visit to the doctor should be made as soon as symptoms appear. If the pinkeye is caused by bacteria antibiotics can be prescribed and the child can usually return to school within 24 hours. If it is a virus, three to five days out of school may be necessary. Your child’s doctor will be able to tell you when your child can return to normal activities.