Our office has recently updated our policy regarding pink eye and prescribing drops. In an effort to stay in line with current recommendations, we will no longer be prescribing pink eye drops over the phone. Patients will need to be seen to determine if drops are indicated.
We know this is a change from our previous protocols, and may be frustrating for some families. Our providers continually strive to keep our protocols up to date with national guidelines and new research. Most pink eye will resolve on its own and there are risks associated with overuse of antibiotics. Many institutions including Children’s Hospital of Colorado have updated their guidelines to reflect this, and we feel this is the right choice to allow us to continue to provide excellent quality care to kids.
If you think your child may have pink eye, you are welcome to schedule an appointment, or you can call and speak with one of our nurse triagers. They will help you determine whether eye drops may be indicated and can get you scheduled if necessary.
If you are interested in learning about the science behind this decision, please continue reading!
Most pink eye (called “conjunctivitis” in medical terms) is caused by a virus. This means that the antibiotic drops prescribed will not help (antibiotics only kill bacteria) and they do not reduce how contagious a person is. Pink eye can also be caused by allergies/allergic reaction, and similarly, antibiotic drops don’t help in this case either. Some pink eye is caused by a bacteria – this is more likely when there is significant pus drainage and no other symptoms (like runny nose, cough, congestion, fever, etc). New research shows that even bacterial pink eye typically resolves on its own without antibiotic drops, and that the drops also don’t reduce contagiousness. So many kids will not benefit from pink eye drops, and over-prescribing these drops leads to antibiotic resistance. We do recognize that many schools and daycares require kids to be on drops before returning to school. In these cases, we are happy to work with families and/or schools to help kids return as quickly as possible.
If you have any questions about this policy, please feel free to reach out to your primary care provider for more information.