Winter Eye Conditions: Pink Eye

January 23, 2013

While pink eye can and does happen during any time of the year, it can be more frequent for some patients during the winter months. Pink eye (or, conjunctivitis) can occur in any patient, regardless of age or health. If there is any concern for this condition, an evaluation by a medical professional is encouraged. While this list of symptoms can be beneficial, it is no substitute for medical care, and should not be taken as diagnostic advice. 

Pink Eye Symptoms Can Include:

  • Crustiness
  • Discharge; depending on type of conjunctivitis, this can range in color from pale to yellow to green.
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Irritation
  • Swelling
  • Decreased vision
  • Possibly lymph node swelling, especially if combined with systemic sickness.

Why this can often be more frequent in the winter months:

Cold and flu season can increase frequency of pink eye, either by contamination from an infected person, or the virus/bacteria itself including the ocular area. A good rule of thumb for winter months is to wash your hands and avoid touching or rubbing the eyes; in addition to reducing exposure to pink eye, this can decrease rate of contraction of other communicable diseases.

Though the term “pink eye” often carries the connotation of a bacterial or viral infection, there is always the possibility of different factors causing conjunctival irritation. Allergic conjunctivitis can affect the eye as well, even in seasons not typically associated with systemic allergies; chemical conjunctivitis can occur when the eye is exposed to chemical irritants.

 Treatment for pink eye can include:

  • Eye drops
  • Monitoring
  • Allowing the virus to take its course
  • Remaining home from work/school until resolution of symptoms to avoid spread of virus/bacteria