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Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

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What is pink eye? Also known as conjunctivitis, pink eye is an inflammation or infection of the eyes, specifically, the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the clear, thin membrane that covers part of the front surface of the eye as well as the eyelids. Here are three main types of conjunctivitis:

  • Viral conjunctivitis – This is the most common type of conjunctivitis. It’s very contagious and spreads easily through schools and other crowded places. It’s usually accompanied with burning eyes, red eyes, and discharge. The same virus that causes a runny nose or sore throat is usually the culprit behind viral conjunctivitis.
  • Bacterial conjunctivitis – This is an infection from bacteria with symptoms of sore eyes, red eyes, and lots of sticky pus in the eye. However, sometimes the infection will have little to no discharge.
  • Allergic conjunctivitis – This type comes from an allergic reaction to various allergens such as, animals, pollen, smoke, etc. This will make your eyes red, itchy, and/or watery, but it is not contagious.

If you have one of the above three types of conjunctivitis, how do you treat it? It depends on what kind you may have:

  • If you have a viral infection, your body will fight it on its own. There isn’t a specific treatment.
  • If you have a bacterial infection, your eye doctor can prescribe antibiotics if needed.
  • If you have conjunctivitis due to allergies, your eye doctor may suggest certain eye drops.

Conjunctivitis will usually go away on its own within 1 – 2 weeks; however, if it doesn’t, see your eye doctor right away.

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