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Conjunctivitus

(aka "Pink Eye")

Overview

Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is an inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane (conjuctiva) that lines your eyelid and covers the white part of your eyeball. When small blood vessels in the conjunctiva become inflamed, they’re more visible. This is what causes the whites of your eyes to appear reddish or pink.

Pink eye is commonly caused by a bacterial or viral infection, an allergic reaction, or – in babies – an incompletely opened tear duct.

Though pink eye can be irritating, it rarely affects your vision. Treatments can help ease the discomfort of pink eye. Because pink eye can be contagious, early diagonisis and treatment can help limit the spread.

Symptoms

Redness in one or both eyes

Itchiness in one or both eyes

A gritty feeling in one or both eyes

A discharge in one or both eyes

Tearing

When to see a doctor

There are serious eye conditions that can cause eye redness. These conditions may cause eye pain, a feeling that sometimes is stuck in your eye (foreign body sensation), blurred vision and light sensitivity. If you experience these symptoms, seek urgent care.

People who wear contact lenses need to stop wearing their contacts as soon as pink eye symptoms begin. If your symptoms don’t start to get better within 12 to 24 hours, make an appointment with your eye doctor to make sure you don’t have a more serious eye infection related to contact lens use.

Causes

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viral bacterial &
conjunctivitis

Most cases of pink eye are typically caused by adenovirus but can also be caused by herpes simplex virus, varicella-zoster virus, and various other viruses, including the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis can occur along with colds or symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as a sore throat. Wearing contact lenses that aren’t cleaned properly or aren’t your own can cause bacterial conjunctivitis.

Both types are very contagious. They are spread through direct or indirect contact with the liquid that drains from

eye-2

Allergic
Conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis affects both eyes and is a response to an allergy-causing substance such as pollen. In response to allergens, your body produces an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). This antibody triggers special cells called mast cells in the mucous lining of your eyes and airways to release inflammatory substances, including histamines. Your body releases of histamine can produce a number of allergy signs and cymptoms, including red or pink eyes. If you have allergic conjunctivitis, you may experience intense itching, tearing and inflammation of the eyes – as well as sneezing and watery nasal discharge. Most allergic conjunctivitis can be controlled with allergy eyedrops the eye of someones who’s infected. One or both eyes may be affected.

eye-3

Conjunctivitis
resulting from irritation

Irritation from a chemical splash or foreign object in your eye is also associated with conjunctivitis. Sometimes flushing and cleaning the eye to rid it of the chemical or object causes redness and irritation. Signs and symptoms, which may include watery eyes and a mucous discharge, usually clear up on their own within about a day.

If initial flushing doesn’t resolve the symptoms, or if the chemical is a caustic one such as lye, you need to be seen by your doctor or eye specialist as soon as possible. A chemical splash into the eye can cause permanent eye damage. Persistent symptoms could also indicate that you still have the foreign body in your eye – or possibly a scratch over the cornea or the covering of the eyeball (sclera)

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