Conjunctivitis is a very common, highly contagious condition often referred to as pink eye. It occurs when the conjunctiva of the eye becomes inflamed, usually from an infection. Conjunctivitis is easy to treat and rarely has long term effects; however, it can worsen quickly, so understanding the signs of pink eye is important. Pink eye causes children to miss more school than any other medical condition and affects about 1 in 9 kids each year.

What Causes Pink Eye?

There are several different causes of pink eye. While viral and bacterial infections are the most common type of conjunctivitis we treat, pink eye can also be caused by allergies, foreign objects, chemicals and, in infants, blocked tear ducts. Here is a closer look at the most common types of pink eye:

  • Viral Conjunctivitis: Pink eye caused by a virus is a highly contagious condition normally associated with the common cold. The infection usually takes hold due to exposure to viral cells through coughing, sneezing and other upper respiratory functions. It can affect a person who’s infected with a virus or through exposure to another person with a viral infection.
  • Bacterial Conjunctivitis: Bacterial pink eye is also a highly contagious condition that is very common amongst children. Many bacterial infections can cause pink eye. The most common things responsible include gonorrhea, chlamydia, staph infections, strep and Haemophilus influenzae. There is also a severe and serious form of conjunctivitis that can affect infants called ophthalmia neonatorum, which can lead to permanent eye damage.
  • Allergic Conjunctivitis: Pink eye can be caused by many allergy-related conditions including asthma, hay fever and eczema. Seasonal allergies, dust and pollen are all also common culprits in Southaven conjunctivitis diagnoses. There is also a special kind of allergic pink eye that affects some contact wearers called giant papillary conjunctivitis.
  • Reactive Conjunctivitis: This type of conjunctivitis most often occurs when some type of chemical or irritant gets into the eye, such as chlorine, cigarette smoke, air pollution and some shampoos. It can also occur when a foreign object gets stuck in the eye, such as a particle of dust.

Conjunctivitis Signs and Symptoms

Different types of pink eye can manifest in different signs and symptoms. However, most types of conjunctivitis affect patients in similar ways. The most common signs and symptoms of pink eye include:

  • Redness in the white of the eye and/or eyelid
  • Itchiness or burning
  • Watering, teary eyes
  • Discharge that is green, white or yellow
  • Light sensitivity

Pink Eye Treatment

If you notice the signs of pink eye, it’s important to seek treatment at our clinic right away. The condition is easy to treat and usually clears up within a few days if dealt with properly. Pink eye treatments vary depending on the cause of the condition. While bacterial infections are always treated with antibiotics, other forms of conjunctivitis may need to just run their course. Some forms of pink eye may indicate other problems that need to be treated in order for your conjunctivitis to heal.