Children often get pink, watery eyes with a cold or allergies. "Pink eye," however, refers to a bacterial infection on the surface of the eye that is highly contagious and requires treatment with antibiotic drops or ointment. Symptoms of bacterial pink eye include pink or red color to the white part of the eye, and a large amount of yellow or green eye discharge. The eye is often crusted shut when the child wakes from sleep, and the eyelids may be slightly puffy due to irritation from the infection.
- In young children, pink eye and ear infections often go together so it is important to have your young child seen in the office if he or she has symptoms of pink eye.
- Eye drainage should resolve within 48 hours of starting an antibiotic. Your child may return to day care after 24 hours of treatment as he or she is no longer contagious.
- Red, watery eyes without a yellow or green discharge do not require treatment with an antibiotic. If the drainage is on-going, call for an appointment.
- Wash hands frequently and avoid sharing towels to prevent spread of the illness to the entire family.