Pink eye

Eyes | Ophthalmology | Pink eye (Disease)


Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is 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 bacteria, viruses, allergy-provoking agents, irritants, and toxic agents, as well as to underlying diseases within the body.

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.

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

Viral and bacterial forms of conjunctivitis are common in childhood, but they occur in adults as well. 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.

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, Enterovirus 70 and Coxsackievirus A24. These were first identified in an outbreak in Ghana in 1969, and have spread worldwide since then, causing several epidemics.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Typically, treatment for pink eye is based on the type of pink eye. Pink eye is typically resolved with or without treatment within a week or two, and without serious complications, although symptoms may last up to six weeks. Other times, such as with allergic conjunctivitis, pink eye may disappear after removing the allergen. Pink eye medication can be a mix of prescribed and over-the-counter medicines. For bacterial infections, a doctor must prescribe an antibiotic to attack the bacteria. This medication can be delivered in eye drops or ointments that are applied to the eyes. ...