Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

Con­junc­tivi­tis, the med­ical term for pink eye, is inflam­ma­tion or infec­tion of the trans­par­ent pro­tec­tive mem­brane that lines the eye­lids and the white part of the eye. When the blood ves­sels in the white part of the eye are inflamed it caus­es the eye to have a pink or red­dish appearance.

Caus­es of con­junc­tivi­tis include:

  • Bac­te­ria
  • Virus­es
  • Aller­gies (such as pollen, dust, mold, con­tact lens products)
  • Sub­stances that cause irri­ta­tion (such as sham­poo, dirt, smoke)

Bac­te­r­i­al and viral caus­es of pink eye can eas­i­ly be spread from one per­son to anoth­er. To min­i­mize the spread of pink eye fre­quent hand wash­ing, avoid­ance of shar­ing tow­els or pil­lows and avoid­ance of touch­ing the eye are rec­om­mend­ed. Con­junc­tivi­tis usu­al­ly does not affect vision and can be present in one or both eyes.

Symp­toms include:

  • Red­ness
  • Itch­i­ness
  • Grit­ty feeling
  • Tear­ing
  • Dis­charge that can cause crust­ing of the eyelids

In most cas­es the infec­tion will clear with­out med­ical care and with dis­con­tin­u­ing con­tact lens wear. Seek med­ical care if you expe­ri­ence pain, light sen­si­tiv­i­ty, or blur­ry vision. Treat­ment for con­junc­tivi­tis varies depend­ing on the cause and if oth­er parts of the eye, such as the cornea, are affected.

Health Topics: