Pinoys are well-aware that sore eyes, especially sore eyes in kids, is a highly contagious illness. There is a misconception, however, how it spreads from person to person — your child can't catch sore eyes just by looking into the eyes of someone infected with it.
Sore eyes in kids
Also known as conjunctivitis or pinkeye, sore eyes is a redness and inflammation of the membranes (conjunctiva) covering the whites of the eyes and the inner parts of the eyelids. It has many causes, but it commonly results from viral infection, and can also be from bacteria or allergen.
As part of its series of summer health advisories, the Department of Health (DOH) has shared need-to-know information on sore eyes kids, also known as conjunctivitis or pinkeye, on their Facebook page. Here's what every parent needs to know about this common childhood illness:
1. Eye-to-eye contact does not spread the illness
So how does it spread? You can get the disease if you rub or touch your eyes after you held or borrowed an item (like a towel or eyeglasses) that was used by a person with sore eyes. It's why hand washing becomes vital for your child so that you can minimize his risk of conjunctivitis.
And, parents, make sure you wash your hands, too, before and after giving their child eyes drops, which are prescribed by a doctor to treat sore eyes.
If your child has sore eyes, it's best he stays at home. Most schools advise students infected with sore eyes to do so to avoid spreading the virus to other children.
2. Symptoms can vary depending on the type of infection
According to HealthyChildren, which is run by the American Academy of Pediatrics, most cases of sore eyes in children are viral although a bacteria can cause it. A doctor will be able to tell you what type of sore eyes your child has.
Symptoms include pink or red, watery, itchy eyes. There can also be mild swelling and yellow discharge. Your child may also complain that his eyelids are “stuck together” when he wakes up in the morning.
3. Sore eyes often go away on its own
“Pinkeye caused by a virus usually goes away without any treatment,” said KidsHealth, a health resource site from the Nemours Foundation. This can take up to seven days, according to pediatrician Dr. Heidi Roman.
For bacterial sore eyes, a pediatrician may prescribe antibiotic eye drops. If you’re having trouble administering eye drops to your child, KidsHealth gave this advice: “Put the drops on the inner corner of your child's closed eye — when your child opens the eye, the medicine will flow into it.”
Take note: Don't give eye drops without a doctor's guidance and prescription. Red-reducing eye drops, for example, will only increase your child's discomfort. According to the American Academy of Opthalmology (AAO), “These kinds of eye drops may be very uncomfortable if you have an infection. They also could make your symptoms worse.”
4. Cool or warm compress over the eyes can help your child feel better
Place a cool or warm washcloth, whichever soothes your child, over the eyes to make him more comfortable. “If pink eye affects only one eye, don't touch both eyes with the same cloth. This reduces the risk of spreading pink eye from one eye to the other,” said Mayo Clinic.
With warm water and cotton balls, clean the edges of the infected eye. This can also be done in the morning to remove dried discharge that has caused your child's eyelids to be stuck together.
5. There should be no sharing of pillows or towels for those with sore eyes
“Viral and bacterial pink eye can spread very easily – as easily as the common cold,” says AAO. So, basic hygiene at home should be a must. Kids with sore eyes should wash their hands often with soap and water especially after touching or rubbing their eyes. They should not share eye drops, tissues, towels or pillowcases with anyone else.
For mom and dad, regularly disinfect surfaces that have been in contact with the child with sore eyes such as doorknobs. Change pillowcases often and give your child a clean, fresh towel to use daily.
Seek medical consult if “eye discharge is profuse and pus-like or patient develops blurring of vision or severe pain,” said the DOH. For any concerns about your child's health and sore eyes in kids, don't hesitate to talk to a pediatrician.