Pink Eye

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    Overview

    Pink eye is a condition characterized by redness and irritation. It is generally self-limiting and benign. 


    Alternative Name

    conjunctivitis 


    Definition

    Pink eye is an inflammation or infection of the membrane lining of the eyelids. 


    Symptoms

    Symptoms may include redness, discharge, discomfort, itchiness, gritty sensation, crustiness in morning, lid swelling and a slight sensitivity to light 


    Types

    There are 3 types of conjunctivitis:

    Viral- this very contagious form of pink eye is characterized by an abrupt onset that is sometimes associated with a cold. The eye may feel gritty and slightly light sensitive. The eye may be crusty in the morning. This is the most common type of pink eye in the adult population.

    Bacterial- the eyelids will be glued together in the morning with this type of conjunctivitis. Burning, discharge and a foreign body sensation are also common. Bacterial conjunctivitis is very rare in the adult population.

    Allergic- itchiness must be present with this form of conjunctivitis. A white stringy discharge may also be noted in the morning. This type of pink eye is usually seasonal. 


    Causes and Risks

    Adults invariably have viral conjunctivitis (95% of the time). In the pediatric population, 80% of conjunctivitis cases are bacterial in origin, and 20% are viral. Either type of conjunctivitis can last between one to two weeks, although bacterial conjunctivitis will improve in a few days if treated with antibacterial drops or ointment. Conjunctivitis may also be caused by allergies. 


    Prevention

    Wash hands frequently
    Keep hands away from eyes
    Replace eye make-up regularly and do not swap or share
    Clean contacts as directed by optician or doctor 


    Treatment

    No treatment is needed for viral conjunctivitis but communal activity should be restricted, and frequent hand washing may prevent transmission. Cool compresses and artificial tears may be used for comfort. Bacterial conjunctivitis may be treated with an antimicrobial medication. Allergic conjunctivitis may be treated with topical decongestants, antihistamines or mast cell stabilizers. 


    When to Call Your Doctor

    Blurred or decreased vision, pain, significant light sensitivity (unable to open eyes in the light), halos around lights, severe redness or copious discharge require medical evaluation. 

    For additional information, please call (631) 444-4000.