NYU Langone ophthalmologists recommend taking several simple steps to avoid conjunctivitis. This common eye condition has several causes, including viruses, bacteria, and other eye irritants.
These practices can also help prevent spreading the condition, which can be highly contagious, to others.
Conjunctivitis is often spread by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eye. Washing your hands frequently can help you avoid contracting it or spreading it.
If you have conjunctivitis, it’s important to avoid touching or rubbing your eyes so you don’t spread it from one eye to the other. To prevent conjunctivitis from spreading to others, don’t share items like towels, pillowcases, eye cosmetics, or things that may touch the area around the eye, such as a phone, reading glasses, or binoculars.
After you’ve been diagnosed with conjunctivitis, your doctor may recommend that you remove your contact lenses and wear your glasses until the condition has cleared up. Wearing contact lenses when you have an eye infection may damage the cornea, the clear, outermost layer of the front part of the eye.
Rarely, previously worn lenses may be a source of reinfection. For this reason, you may need to carefully disinfect or discard contact lenses and their case.
Your NYU Langone ophthalmologist can offer more advice on contact lens care and how to avoid a recurrence of conjunctivitis.
For women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, it’s important to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) before giving birth. Many babies who have conjunctivitis contract it from the same bacteria that cause gonorrhea and chlamydia, common STDs. These forms of infection, called gonococcal or chlamydial conjunctivitis, can be contracted by the baby as he or she comes through the birth canal and can threaten his or her vision. Getting tested and treated for these STDs can help protect your baby.
Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.