Conjunctivitis, commonly referred to as “pink eye”, is an infection of the membrane that covers the eye and lines the eyelids (conjunctiva). Infective pink eye, caused by a virus or bacteria, normally occurs in only one eye, although it can spread to both eyes. Pinkeye is very contagious and is easily spread through poor hand hygiene, which is why it is so common in children.
Conjunctivitis in newborns is most often caused by Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae or Staphylococcus epidermidis from the vaginal flora during childbirth, although herpes simplex, gonorrhea and chlamydia infections may also be the cause. Older children with bacterial conjunctivitis are primarily caused by H influenzae (Hib) and cannot be prevented with the vaccine.
Patient will be free from infection; patient will have no change or loss of vision; patient will be free from pain and discomfort
Assess for signs of ear infection
The common signs of pink eye are erythema and clear or purulent discharge. Vision loss is not typical, but may be distorted or blurred.
Otitis media is a common co-infection and symptoms may overlap
Get baseline and help determine if there is underlying systemic infection. Pink eye usually does not present with fever.
Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are spread through contact. Disinfect all equipment to prevent cross contamination to other patients.
Determine if others in the home have similar symptoms. Isolate patient from these family members.
Does the patient attend school or daycare where it is easy to pick up germs and bacteria? How long has patient had symptoms?
Make sure compress is moist and warm (not hot) to help relieve discomfort.
Administer medications as required
Antibiotic drops or ointments are used to treat bacterial infections.
Antihistamines, decongestants and steroids may also be given to relieve symptoms
Pink eye infections are highly contagious and easily spread through contact. Isolating the patient from other children will prevent the continued spread of the illness.
Help patients and parents / caregivers understand the importance of proper care and hygiene to prevent spread of infection to other children or family members.
Correct instillation of eye drops and correct administration of medications is imperative for optimal therapeutic benefit.
For more information, visit www.nursing.com/cornell
Get unlimited access to lessons and study tools