Medical officials report highest incidence in years, offer precautions
THE SANTA CLARA
February 13, 2014
S anta Clara’s own miniature epidemic of conjunctivitis, more commonly referred to as “pink eye,” has been circulating around campus.
Pink eye is an inflammation of the conjunctiva — the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye and lines the eyelids. As inflamed blood vessels become more visible, the eye appears reddish-pink in color.
“The number of cases of pink eye can vary from year to year,” said Peggie Robinson, clinic manager of Cowell Student Health Services. “I would say this has been a high incidence we are currently seeing.”
According to Robinson, there have been 50 student cases of pink eye so far this winter quarter.
Pink eye can occur at any time of the year, but it is usually more predominant when allergens and irritants are prevalent. The number of cases of pink eye generally increases when the season changes from winter to spring.
Students with pre-existing eye conditions may be at risk for further complications and infections. Cowell recommends seeking personal medical care as promptly as possible.
Treatment from student to student has varied. Depending on their symptoms, some have been provided with antibiotic eye drops or other antibiotic ointments, while others are not treated with any medications at all.
Conjunctivitis, which is both bacterial and viral, is quite contagious. Cowell encourages students to frequently wash their hands, avoid touching or rubbing their eyes and refrain from sharing items such as towels, eye drops, makeup and eyeglasses.
Students should also be aware of when they are in contact with “high-touch areas,” which are fruitful sources of contaminants, such as doorknobs, counters and keyboards.
“If we touch an area where someone with pink eye or cold virus just touched, and then we touch or rub our eyes, we can transmit the infection,” said Robinson. “Most cases will heal on their own with no serious harm.”
Severe complications are rare, but may include worse eye infections and problems with the cornea.
One home remedy for pink eye is to soak a clean, lint-free cloth in water, wring out the water, fold the cloth and gently place the cloth on the closed eye. Cool compresses may be soothing against inflammation, though warm cloths can be used as well.
Students may contact Cowell for more information regarding conjunctivitis or to seek medical attention.
Contact Naushaba Khan at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.