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How much time is needed to heal pink eye infection?

Customer Question
I have been prescribed Tobramycin...
I have been prescribed Tobramycin by a walk-in clinic for a suspected pink eye infection. I'm on day 4 of the antibiotic eye drops, and although there has been 70% improvement in redness of both eyes, I still feel like I am looking through fog. My vision improves greatly around 8 pm then is worse again after waking. The eyes are not painful but they are sensitive to light. I have a follow-up appointment booked with my regular doctor tomorrow.
Submitted: 6 years ago.Category: Eye
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Answered in 1 minute by:
1/5/2012
Eye Doctor: Dr. Dan B., Board Certified Ophthalmologist replied 6 years ago
Dr. Dan B.
Dr. Dan B., Board Certified Ophthalmologist
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 3,343
Experience: Eye surgeon experienced in cataracts, glaucoma, retina & neuro-ophthalmology
Verified
Doctor DanB : Hello and thanks for your question. Have you had a recent cold or stomach flu or been around anyone with either of these or a red eye?
Customer:

I have a mild sore throat, and my daughter has an ear infection. Neither of my children have pink eye.

Doctor DanB : If you have a 'pink eye' then unfortunately I wouldn't expect the tobramycin drops to necessarily help. Let me explain...
Doctor DanB : Pink eye is what many people commonly called 'viral conjunctivitis'.  Pink eye is caused by a virus and often follows your exposure to either a virus that causes a common cold, a viral gastroenteritis (vomiting and/or diarrhea) or to someone with a red eye or one of those viruses.  It usually starts out as mostly a ‘pinkening’ of the white part of the eye.  It can also cause burning, itching, foreign-body sensation, watering, light sensitivity in one or both eyes.  Shortly therafter, it usually goes into the other eye.  Many times, the only thing that bothers the person is that the eye is red.  Unfortunately, there isn't any treatment that makes the virus go away and/or die. Many primary care doctors will mistakenly give out antibiotic drops for this and tell the patient that they will not be infectious after taking this drop for 24 hours. This is just simply not true. Antibiotics only work against bacteria and therefore have no treating power against viruses. The only thing to do for a viral conjunctivitis is to wait it out until the virus leaves the system. This can take up to 1-2 weeks for the eyes to look and feel normal again. I tell my patients that once their eyes look and feel normal again, then they are good to resume prior activities. If this is a pink-eye, then infection control is the most important issue after symptom control; these secretions are incredibly contagious and so alcohol-based hand-gel is good to carry around with you and use liberally. Also, don't share towels with anyone and try to avoid being around elderly persons, persons with compromised immune systems or infants. As far as symptom treatment, cool compresses, artificial tears (without redness relievers in them) and OTC pain relief (ibuprofen or tylenol) are the best to control symptoms while you wait out the virus to run its course, which can take anywhere from 1-2 weeks. Its difficult to be a hermit for that long, so when the eyes look and feel normal, it is reasonable to behave normally as far as infection precautions go.  If things are not getting better after 1 week, or if it does start to get very painful or light sensitive to where you couldn't function, or if it just stays in one eye and the discharge and redness become significantly worse, then I would recommend going to the doctor as you may need prescription medicine to treat it.
Customer:

Thanks for your response. All of what you have mentioned are protocol with which I'm very familiar. I suspect a possible misdiagnosis because the doctor at the walk-in clinic did not check my pupil reactivity, nor look at my eyes with the opthalmoscope. I've never had a pinkeye infection that lasted more than a few days. I'm at one week now.

Doctor DanB : Did this start in both eyes at the same time? Has there been significant eye itching?
Customer:

It started in the left eye, then moved to the right eye. The eyes are moderately itchy, and I'm unable to produce my own tears. My eyes appear to have a yellowish film over them.

Doctor DanB :

These symptoms do sound consistent with a viral conjunctivitis. Not all episodes of viral conjunctivitis are the same. It is possible to contract a particularly virulent strain that doesn't go away in a few days. In fact, some of the more virulent strains of this I've seen in my patients can last 10-14 days.

Customer:

Okay, so patience is key here then. I just usually heal so quickly so it's alarming for me. Thanks.

Doctor DanB :

You're welcome.

Any positive feedback and/or bonus you may feel prompted to provide would be welcomed and is appreciated. Thanks for trusting me to help you with your concerns!

My opinion is solely informative and does not constitute a formal medical opinion or recommendation. For a formal medical opinion and/or recommendation you must see an eye doctor.

Dr. Dan B.
Dr. Dan B., Board Certified Ophthalmologist
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 3,343
Experience: Eye surgeon experienced in cataracts, glaucoma, retina & neuro-ophthalmology
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