Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

Conjunctivitis, also known as "pink eye", is a common eye disease, especially in children. It can be caused by everything from an allergic reaction to a bacterial infection. Most cases of conjunctivitis are minor; but if left untreated, the condition can easily develop into a more serious problem.

What is conjunctivitis?

Pink eye is a swelling of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the thin, clear membrane tissue that covers the inside of the eyelid. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of this tissue. The swelling and inflammation of the conjunctiva gives the characteristic red or pink appearance to the eye.

Conjunctivitis is a highly contagious eye disease and is easily spread from contact. If diagnosed early, conjunctivitis is not a serious health risk.

Symptoms of conjunctivitis

The symptoms of conjunctivitis vary depending on the cause of the disease. Symptoms may include: 

  • Eye pain
  • Eye redness 
  • Blurry vision 
  • Light sensitivity 
  • More tear production 
  • Itchy eyes 
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Crusts that form on eyelashes overnight 
  • Gritty feeling in the eyes 
  • Pink discoloration of the whites of the eyes

Causes of conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis has a number of different causes, including the following: 

  • Viruses 
  • Allergies (especially dust and pollen allergies) 
  • Bacteria 
  • Fungi 
  • Prolonged use of contact lenses 
  • STDs like Chlamydia and Gonorrhea

The most common cause of conjunctivitis is viruses.

Treatment of conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is highly contagious so it is important to avoid contact with others and wash hands continually throughout the day. The key to effectively treating conjunctivitis is determining the cause of the disease: 

  • Bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with antibiotic eye drops and ointment. 
  • Viral conjunctivitis must be allowed to run its course and will disappear on its own. 
  • Allergic conjunctivitis can be treated with allergy medications.

If you believe you have pink eye, visit your doctor to determine the cause of your conjunctivitis and the best method of treatment.


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