Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

Eyes | Ophthalmology | Conjunctivitis (pink eye) (Disease)


Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is manifested by redness and inflammation of the membranes (conjunctiva) covering the whites of the eyes and the membranes on the inner part of the eyelids. These membranes react to a wide range of allergy-provoking agents, bacteria, viruses, irritants, and toxic agents, as well as to underlying diseases within the body. Viral and bacterial forms of conjunctivitis are common in childhood, but they occur in adults also. Pink eye can occur in people of any age. Overall, however, there are many causes of pink eye. These can be classified as either infectious or noninfectious. Pink eye does not cause any changes in vision.

For more common types of pink eye, here are some of the symptoms:

(1) Allergic conjunctivitis causes itching, redness and excessive tearing in both eyes. Your nose also may be stuffy, itchy and runny.

(2) Bacterial conjunctivitis often spreads to both eyes and causes a heavy discharge, sometimes greenish. Crusting may appear on eyelids.

(3) Viral conjunctivitis usually affects only one eye, which has excessive watering and a light discharge. Crusting on eyelids sometimes occurs.

Causes and Risk factors

Conjunctivitis is most commonly caused by viral infection, but bacterial infections, allergies, other irritants and dryness are also common etiologies for its occurrence. Both bacterial and viral infections are contagious. Commonly, conjunctival infections are passed from person-to-person, but can also spread through contaminated objects or water.

The most common cause of viral conjunctivitis is adenoviruses. Herpetic keratoconjunctivitis (caused by herpes simplex viruses) can be serious and requires treatment with acyclovir. Acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis is a highly contagious disease caused by one of two enteroviruses.

The way your eyes feel and look will provide some clues about the type of pink eye you have. Besides causing a pink eye, conjunctivitis also can make your eye hurt or itch.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The treatment for conjunctivitis will depend on whether it is caused by infection, an allergic reaction or an irritant such as a stray eyelash. Most cases of infective conjunctivitis do not require medical treatment and will clear up in one to two weeks. About allergic conjunctivitis treatment will depend on which type of allergic conjunctivitis it is. ...

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