SPRINGFIELD, Mo.—Red, itchy, burning, and runny eyes are one of the leading reasons children miss school or day care, but now a new test could make a pink eye diagnosis easier, saving time and money.
Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, can either be the result of a virus, bacteria, or allergies. Doctors can’t tell by looking, and in the past, many prescribed antibiotics while waiting for test results. In viral cases, the medication didn’t help, and was an unnecessary cost.
To speed up the diagnosis, contain those costs, and prevent the spread of the disease, Mercy Clinic Eye Specialists-Ophthalmology led clinical trials for the AdenoPlus device. Staff members use it to painlessly swab the lower eyelid. It can identify viral pink eye in just ten minutes, and patients may never need to see a doctor.
“With this FDA approval, school nurses could administer the test,” says Mercy Ophthalmologist Dr. Shachar Tauber. “If the test detects the virus, that child would be sent home immediately, and told they’re contagious for five to seven days. That keeps them out of the doctor’s waiting room, and keeps them from contaminating others.”
It can also save patients considerable expense. Dr. Tauber recently saw a patient who had been to two emergency rooms and seen multiple specialists. Within minutes, the AdenoPlus device made the correct diagnosis. “Had this been done at first, that patient could have avoided several thousand dollars of unnecessary tests,” says Dr. Tauber.
If the AdenoPlus test is negative for the virus, doctors can begin determining whether the problem is bacterial, or something more serious. “Red, oozing eyes can also be an indication that the patient has a sight-threatening disease, such as glaucoma,” says Dr. Tauber. “In that case, they need to see a specialist immediately.”
Based upon the FDA’s approval of the AdenoPlus test, and its acceptance by the American Academy of Ophthalmologists, doctors are now working on updating their recommendations for pink eye, including new medications.