Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) Information
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the mucous membrane that lines the eyelids and is reflected onto the eyeball.  Signs and symptoms include redness of one or both eyes with or without a discharge; eyes are “matted” with discharge in the morning; swollen eyelids; pain or itching; and sensitivity to light.  Remember to wash hands, do not wear contacts (switch to glasses), and use medication as directed.

There are basically three types of conjunctivitis.  They are bacterial, viral, and allergic.

The Red Book states that individuals do not need to be excluded from school if they have “nonprurulent conjunctivitis (defined as pink conjunctiva with a clear, watery eye discharge and without fever, eye pain, or eyelid redness).”


BACTERIAL:  The eye produces a lot of yellow or green discharge.  The eyelids are usually matted together after sleep.  It is often a superinfection of viral conjunctivitis and associated with a complication of a cold.  Students should be sent home.  Antibiotic eyedrops or ointments are needed.  Students may return to school after the medication has been used for 24 hours and the discharge is minimal.


VIRAL:  The eyes may be watery before they become red or  “pink.”  Symptoms associated with it often include runny nose, cough, or fever.  The eye symptoms usually don’t go away until the cold does.


ALLERGIC:  Bilateral.  Itchy eyes with frequent rubbing, increased tearing (watery eyes), red or pink eyes, mild swelling of the eyelids, no discharge or a minimal, sticky, stringy, mucoid discharge. May also have nasal symptoms of hay fever. The face and eye area should be washed to remove possible allergen (i.e. pollen blown by the wind).  Cold compresses may be applied.  There are numerous over the counter vasoconstictor eye drops that may offer relief.  Some children will benefit from an oral antihistamine.  Eye drops are preferable, if they work, so that the children do not experience antihistamine side effects.  Most eye allergies are seasonal: late April to May- various trees; late May to mid-July- grass; late August to the first frost- ragweed. If the symptoms occur sporadically, the allergen may be animal (cat being the most common)