Researchers have been able to identify the virus that is the leading cause of inflammation in pink eye. The highly contagious condition leads to inflammation, redness and discharge in the eyes. The study which is detailed in the April 15 issue of PLos Pathogens was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, and the National Eye Institute. The protein coating around the virus was found to be the component that causes the inflammation. This discovery is significant because it is the inflammation which causes the discharge, and it is the discharge that transmits the disease. Hopefully, this discovery will allow researchers to find a way to block the viral protein coating. Most infectious conjunctivitis is caused by a virus rather than bacteria. Thus, taking antibiotics don't help resolve it's the speed of recovery, similar to the failure of Penicillin to help the Common Cold. However, combination antibiotic-steroid drops can reduce the bacterial overgrowth that occurs with conjunctivitis and help some of the symptoms. If you develop conjunctivitis, it is important to take steps to prevent spreading it to other people for up to 10 days. These include:
- Don't share a telephone, since it is brought to the side of the face.
- Don't share towels.
- Don't swap pillows.
- Don't kiss anyone on the cheek.
- Don't shake hands, since the other person may touch his or her face or eye later.
- Wipe down any shared door knobs that other people are using.
- Wash your hands frequently during the first week to protect against surfaces you do inadvertently touch.
- Students should stay out of school for at least 3 days if they have ocular discharge, and possibly up to one week.