Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)
is a Common Eye Infection
Conjunctivitis is commonly referred to as Pink Eye. Pink eye is an inflammation/infection of the conjunctiva, which is the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye. Conjunctivitis is very common. The common causes of pink eye are infections (especially in children) and allergies (more common in adults). Most conjunctival pink eye infections are caused by bacteria that are spread by hand-to-eye contact, or by viruses, associated with a cold, sore throat, or illness such as measles. Viral conjunctivitis can sometimes occur in epidemics, spreading rapidly through schools, companies and other group settings. Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by an allergen such as dust or pollen. Other causes of an allergic conjunctivitis may be mascara or contact lens cleaning solutions.
Symptoms of Pink Eye
- Redness of the white part of the eye and/or the underside of the eyelids
- Discomfort or foreign object sensation
- Discharge (mucus or watery) from the affected eye
- Itching especially for allergic conjunctivitis
- Possibly eyelids matted closed, especially upon awakening
- Possibly swollen eyelids
There are many possible causes of red, pink or irritated eyes. DO NOT assume that all red eyes are simply conjunctivitis. Only your eye doctor can properly diagnose the condition you have.
Is Pink Eye Contagious?
Conjunctivitis that is caused by a virus or bacteria is contagious. Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious. The contagious period generally lasts during the period when there are signs and symptoms of problems in one's eyes.
Pink Eye Treatment
Pink eye treatment requires care by an eye doctor who will prescribe one or more of the following treatments:
- Warm water is used to wash away the discharge and remove any crusts on the eyelids.
- Eyelid scrubs to clean the area
- Eye drop medicine to treat the infection (usually antibiotic or corticosteroid drops or a combination of the two). Allergic problems may require antihistamine drops.
Chlamydial (Inclusion) conjunctivitis requires a completely different treatment regimen.