The Perils of Pink Eye

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The child's shrieks sounded down the narrow hallway. Amanda, the eye care technician, crept quietly toward Exam Room 2. She slowly opened the door and cautioned a peek inside the room where an angry woman straddled a kicking, screaming, squirming 5-year-old and another eye tech wrestled to control the child's tossing, turning head.

Amanda stepped backwards and silently shut the door. She immediately knew the source of the chaos in Exam Room 2.

Eye drops.

Eye drops are the cause of fear and trauma for many young patients in the eye doctor's office. Pink eye is common in children in adults, and everyone sooner or later will probably have to face the dreaded bottle of medicated drops. Moms can take a few simple steps to help alleviate the drama of pink eye for their children.

Pink eye, or "conjunctivitis," is a general term that refers to any irritated or inflamed eyes. Pink eye can be caused by bacteria, viruses, allergies, or irritants like chlorine and other chemicals. Pink eye is identified by red, watery eyes, and that crusty, gunky stuff that sticks the eyelids together and looks nasty.

To help prevent pink eye:

Teach children to wash their hands often and to use soap.

Don't share towels or wash cloths.

Wash sheets, pillow cases, and towels frequently and in hot water.

When a child does show symptoms of pink eye, visit a doctor right away. Some forms of pink eye will go away on their own, but if left untreated, some pink eye could progress to serious and sight-threatening infections. Follow the doctor's orders and use all the drops or other medications he or she recommends.

Since most children will eventually get a case of pink eye and need medicated drops, a mom can prepare her child for the experience and avoid the drama of prying open the eyelids of a squirming, crying child.

One couple brought their 1-year-old to Amanda's office and showed how they had made their daughter accustomed to eye drops and unafraid of the eye doctor experience.

IMG_0218They bought a bottle of unmedicated, artificial tears for a couple of dollars, like this one from Walmart.

When the baby was only a few months old, Mom and Dad started practicing with using the artificial tears.

"Look. Watch Daddy." Dad dropped a few drops of the artificial tears in his own eye, then dropped a few pain-free drops in the baby's eyes.

The baby blinked and looked surprised, but she did not cry. She didn't squirm, scream, or feel afraid. And Amanda didn't have to help hold a kicking, fighting child.

What suggestions do you have for helping your child use eye drops or medications? What have you done to prepare your child for a visit to the doctor's office?

 

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