BEST START: Pink Eye vs. Allergies

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Dr. Susan Averitt, from Best Start Pediatric Clinic in Springdale says lately she’s been seeing a lot of parents having trouble telling the difference between what could be pink eye, or just a swollen eye(s) due to allergies.

“I’m not sure I know exactly what pink eye is because there are different terms that are used to describe the same thing.  In medicine we use the term conjunctivitis, which means it’s an inflammation of the white part of the eye ball. It’s also the lining of the eyelid. There can be multiple causes. Allergies are a common cause of having redness, watery, itchy eyes, but you can also get infections in the eye that can cause pink eye,” Dr. Averitt said.

Viruses typically cause a bright red, and it’s usually one eye versus both, Averitt said. It can cause some pain and irritation.

“The thing that people worry that most about is a bacteria in the eye, which is the same type of bacteria that can cause a sinus or an ear infection. These can lead to pink eye. Your eye produces a thick puss that will overlay your lid and cause your eyelashes to stick together in the morning. It does cause some swelling and it looks really bad.”

Dr. Averitt says if you have the bacteria pink eye, it can be treated with an antibiotic eye drop without oral medication. She says it takes about 24-48 hours to clear the infection and no longer become contagious.

If your eyeball is swollen, with a history of allergies, Dr. Averitt recommends an allergy eye drop, which is an antihistamine.