Catching the” Red Eye”
Whether jetting to an exotic Spring Break location or just across country to see your bestie, catching a “red eye” flight can be exciting but catching conjunctivitis (a.k.a. pink eye) is not! Conjunctivitis can be chemical, environmental, viral, or bacterial in nature. While pink eye does not lead to permanent health problems, it is very annoying. Besides causing one or two unsightly eyes, it can cause blurred vision, yellow discharge, itchiness, and discomfort. Equally unfortunate, conjunctivitis is easily spread when in close quarters (think college dorm rooms, gym, classrooms, and sports teams!)
Take these steps to avoid catching this red eye:
- WASH YOUR HANDS! Effective hand-washing consists of vigorous rubbing under running warm water with soap for the time it takes to sing (or hum to yourself) one verse of Happy Birthday song. (which is about the same time as it takes to sing ‘Ray Bucknell!!)
- Do NOT share drinks, utensils, lip cosmetics/products, cell phones, keyboards, or other high-touch devices.
- Avoid touching your face/eyes.
- Wipe gym equipment or other high-touch surfaces with available disinfectant before and after use.
- Change towels, washcloths, and pillow case frequently.
If you have been unlucky enough to contract conjunctivitis:
- Discard and refrain from wearing contacts during infection.
- Discard any eye makeup you have used while infected, especially items like mascara or liquid liner which has an applicator which goes back into (thus infecting) the entire container. You can sharpen pencils and clean other brushes and applicators with hot soapy water and air dry.
- Use warm or cool compresses over eye(s) as needed for comfort.
If your eyes are not improving with these self-care measures, you may seek care at Student Health. Typically antibiotic drops are prescribed if the infection is limited to the eyes. Sometimes there are sinus issues involved and oral antibiotics may be used. If the infection is caused by a virus, time and self-care are the only treatments needed. A typical infection can last 5-7 days.