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Pink eye, known clinically as conjunctivitis, is an inflammation of the clear membrane of the eye. It is caused by a bacterial or viral infection. In some, the same symptoms can present from an allergy.
Pink eye can be painful and irritating when the infection strikes. In addition to the whites of the eye turning pink or red, a person can also expect to have swollen eyelids, lots of tearing, drainage, crusty eyelids and sensitivity to bright light.
Because it is highly contagious, pink eye can spread easily and quickly to others. This is usually due to improper hand washing after touching the area around the eye. It can also spread by using the same towel, pillowcase or other object that a person with pink eye has used. Children who have pink eye should remain out of a daycare or school setting.
While pink eye can be irritating, it is rarely serious and will not affect long-term vision as long as it is detected and treated promptly. In some cases, if a person becomes a chronic sufferer of pink eye, it can indicate an underlying illness in the body.
If pink eye is suspected, make an appointment with your eye doctor. The optometrist can generally make the diagnosis based on symptoms but in some cases may need to conduct a quick eye exam to determine the cause. Prescription eye drops can be prescribed to alleviate the infection and provide relief.
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