Pink eye can be an uncomfortable problem to deal with, especially when the infection spreads to both eyes. Fortunately, pink eye is common and it may be easy to treat the symptoms. Here are some of the basics to know—including how much it costs to treat and how to save money on these expenses.
What is pink eye?
Pink eye, a.k.a. conjunctivitis, is a common eye infection. It happens when the clear membrane lining your eyelids and white part of your eyeballs become inflamed. The small blood vessels may become infected, making the white part of your eyes look red or pink. You may get pink eye from a bacterial or viral infection or an allergic reaction. Although pink eye may not impact your vision, it can be contagious, so early diagnosis and treatment are critical.
What is the treatment for pink eye?
It may be possible to get a diagnosis simply by sharing the symptoms with your doctor. You won’t usually need an in-person office visit. Typically, the purpose of the treatment is to ease your symptoms.
Pink eye is usually a viral infection, which means antibiotics won’t clear it. The one exception may be if pink eye is caused by the herpes simplex virus. For a normal infection, though, you may notice the infection spreads from one eye to the other within a few days. Unfortunately, you may have to wait two to three weeks for the infection to run its course. Over time, your pink eye symptoms will get better.
Your doctor may suggest some treatments to ease the symptoms in the meantime. These may include artificial tears, using a wet cloth to clean your eyelids, or trying a cold or hot compress throughout the day.
If the infection is caused by an allergic reaction, your doctor may prescribe eye drops for allergies. They may also suggest antihistamines, decongestants, steroids, or anti-inflammatory eye drops. You may avoid future flareups by staying away from known allergens.
How much does pink eye treatment cost?
The cost of treating pink eye may vary based on what your doctor prescribes. You may save money by skipping an in-person doctor’s appointment. But if you have to visit in person, you may owe a copayment or out-of-pocket expenses, depending on your health insurance plan.
You may purchase artificial tears eye drops over the counter for less than $10. Your doctor may also recommend a hot or cold compress for $10-$20. You can use your health savings account (HSA) to pay for either type of compress. Antihistamines and decongestants may cost up to $30, depending on the quantity you buy. Luckily, both products are also HSA-eligible.
Looking for more HSA eligible products? Check out our What's Eligible page to see what items are considered a qualified medical expense.
Be proactive with pink eye
While it may be tempting to ignore, getting a pink eye diagnosis may be the first step to feeling better. Plus, it may motivate you to steer clear others while you are still contagious. It’s never fun to spend money on over-the-counter remedies for any type of illness. But using pre-tax, health savings account money may make it less of a financial burden.
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