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Local doctors see a spike in pink eye cases

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Posted at 6:31 PM, Jan 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-10 18:31:03-05

TAMPA, Fla. -- It’s itchy, uncomfortable and ultra contagious! Tampa Bay doctors are spreading the word about a spike in local pink eye cases.

Like most parents, South Tampa mom Daniela Simic is in a constant battle trying to keep her 4-year-old son Roman from spreading germs from his hands to his eyes and mouth.

Just the thought of pink eye makes her reach for the hand sanitizer.

“He hasn’t gotten it yet so fingers crossed but I know it spreads pretty quickly,” Simic explained.

Eye doctors at Newsom Eye tell us they’ve seen a spike in cases of pink eye in their South Tampa, Carrollwood and Sebring offices. The cases range from daycares, schools, offices and even local college campuses.

Optometrist Aimee Grimm blames two possible causes: Holiday travel putting people in close proximity to one another and allergies.

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Pink eye is also very contagious. It is spread through someone touching their eye and then touching a surface or from sharing towels, makeup or bed sheets.

“People are itching the eyes, rubbing the eyes and as soon as they touch their eyes and touch something else, unfortunately it is contaminated.”

Optometrist Aimee Grimm says she’s also seen a lot more severe cases recently which can cause a membrane to grow over the eye.

“A lot of times patients will try to put it off where they don’t come in to see their eye doctor and they think it will clear up on its own, but if you have a variant where it produces a membrane, we have to remove it for you to start feeling better or it will continue to linger,” she explained.

Grimm recommends washing your hands, using hot water to wash sheets and towels and seeing a doctor at the first signs of pink eye.

“Tearing, redness, a little bit of swelling, any type of blurry vision, those are usually the first signs,” Grimm elaborated.

Pink eye can be contagious up to 24 hours after you start treatment with antibiotic eye drops.

Simic says it’s all the more reason to monitor her son's hygiene.

“That’s among my top three priorities in life is keeping him healthy,” she said before giving her son a hug.