Thursday, 10 June 2021 14:05

Childhood “Pink Eye”: When to Worry

By Dorothy Reynolds, MD, Pediatric Ophthalmologist and Ophthalmic Surgeon, Saratoga Hospital Medical Group – Pediatric Eye Care for Saratoga TODAY | Families Today
Childhood “Pink Eye”: When to Worry

Sunny weather and children go hand-in-hand, but summer is also a time for allergies, infections, and getting irritants in the eyes, all of which can make your child’s eyes become inflamed and pink. Conjunctivitis, or “pink eye,” is quite common and easily treated, depending on the cause, but can result in serious vision issues if not treated appropriately. Here are some of the recommendations I give parents:


If the cause of your child’s conjunctivitis is allergies, first try cool moist compresses and lubricating artificial tear eye drops. Children with more severe allergic conjunctivitis may require over-the-counter topical and/or oral allergy medications, and sometimes prescription allergy medications, also. 

Artificial Tears

When choosing a lubricating eye drop for children, you might consider a gel drop, which lasts longer so there are fewer applications. Keeping the lubricating eye drops in the refrigerator will cool them, making them more comfortable to apply and more soothing.


Infectious conjunctivitis generally requires an evaluation by a physician, as topical antibiotics are often required. This form of “pink eye” is contagious, so keep your child home from school and daycare, and make sure everyone washes their hands frequently. 

Eye Irritants

If your child feels like something is in their eye, discourage them from rubbing it. Foreign body sensation may be a sign of something benign, such as an eyelash, however it could also be due to a corneal abrasion (a “scratch” on the front of the eye), foreign body on or in the eye, or other serious injury to the eye. 

If you see something on or in the eye, or if there is a history of eye trauma, bring your child immediately to the emergency department for further evaluation. Do not attempt to remove anything more serious from the eye. That said, if you instead see an eyelash on the eye or under the lid, you can gently sweep your clean finger over the closed eyelid toward the nose, or apply some lubricating artificial tear eye drops to help irrigate it out.

Conjunctivitis may also be due to some other cause of inflammation in the eye, glaucoma (“high eye pressure”), or injury, all of which would need evaluation by a physician. If you don’t know the cause of your child’s “pink eye,” talk to your pediatrician before treating at home.

Dr. Reynolds specializes in children’s eye disorders, such as strabismus (misalignment of the eyes) and amblyopia (“lazy eye”). She also treats adults with strabismus and double vision. She sees many pediatric eye issues, including but not limited to conjunctivitis (“pink eye”), nasolacrimal duct obstruction (“blocked tear duct”), ptosis (“droopy eyelid”), and non-emergency eye injuries due to sports or other physical activity. She has been working with children, including premature babies, for 20 years. 

Dr. Reynolds lives locally and has a large family in the area, including her brother, Dr. Frederick Reynolds, who is chief of general surgery at Saratoga Hospital.  Saratoga Hospital Medical Group – Pediatric Eye Care is located at 3050 Route 50, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. To make an appointment, call 518-580-2228. Learn more at

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