Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is a highly contagious disease caused by both viruses and bacteria. The symptoms are red eyes, tearing, itching, and swelling, along with occasional blurred vision. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about pink eye:

How is Pink Eye Spread?

It’s spread through touch, and can be picked up by simply using a towel or washcloth that an infected person used, or sharing a pillow with the wrong person.

What’s the Difference Between Bacterial and Viral Pink Eye?

While both diseases have the same symptoms, bacterial pink eye should be treated with antibiotics. Viral pink eye should not, since antibiotics have no effect on viruses.

Who Can Get Pink Eye?

While most of the cases of pink eye in this country are in children, it’s possible for anyone to catch the disease. It’s thought that it’s more common in children because they come in more physical contact with others and don’t practice good hygiene habits such as frequent handwashing.

How Long is Pink Eye Contagious?

The bacterial form of pink eye can be spread until 1 to 2 days after you start taking the antibiotics. If you have the viral form, you’re still contagious until all the redness in your eyes has disappeared.

How To Tell What Kind of Pink Eye I Have?

At Silicon Valley Eye Physicians we have a test known as AdenoPlus. It can detect the viral form of pink eye. The test can tell which form of the disease you have within ten minutes.

How Do I Treat Pink Eye?

Other than antibiotics for bacterial pink eye, most treatment is concerned with making the patient comfortable and preventing the spread of the disease. The most common treatments are:

  • Putting a cool compress over the eyes four times a day. Keep the compress on the eyes for about ten minutes, and use a clean washcloth each time
  • Washing hands frequently and never touching the eye area
  • Using a clean pillowcase every night and a clean towel after every shower or bath
  • Throwing away contact lens cases that were used when being infected

When Can I Return to School or Work?

It’s safe to return to your normal schedule when you’re not contagious any more. With the bacterial form of the disease, wait 24 hours after starting antibiotic treatment. With viral pink eye, you may need to stay home until all redness and other symptoms have gone. Check with our office for more detailed advice about your case.

How Can I Prevent Pink Eye in Sunnyvale and Santa Clara?

Washing your hands frequently is the best way to avoid pink eye. Also, avoid touching anything that may have become contaminated by someone suffering from pink eye such as pillowcases, eye drop bottles, washcloths, or cosmetics.

If someone in your family develops pink eye it can seem like a catastrophe, but our doctors can help you through it. Call our office today at 408-703-5929 to visit our Sunnyvale or Santa Clara offices or for a convenient visit online!