“Pink Eye” is a common term referring to conjunctivitis. The conjunctiva is the outer white part of the eye and the inside lining of the eyelids. The conjunctiva is normally clear, but if it is inflamed it becomes pink or red. Conjunctivitis can be caused by allergies, bacteria, viruses or other irritants. The treatment depends on the cause.

Besides redness, other symptoms include tearing, itching, sensitivity to light, mucus and/or a gritty feeling.

Anyone can get pink eye, especially people in close contact with other. Viral conjunctivitis is like a cold and is highly contagious and spreads easily. And like a cold, it doesn’t respond to medicines, but usually resolves on its own in a few days. Artificial tears and cold compresses can make the eye feel better.

Bacterial conjunctivitis usually requires an antibiotic. This type of pick eye has a sticky discharge and the lids are usually stuck together in the morning. A warm wet washcloth applied to the closed eye will loosen the dried mucus.

Besides red eyes Allergic conjunctivitis causes itchy, watery eyes. This conditions requires treatment of the allergy and reducing exposure to the cause.

Contact lens wearers have a greater risk of pink eye because they tend to touch their eyes more frequently, potentially introducing viruses, bacteria and other causes of conjunctivitis to their eyes.

It can be difficult to tell one type of conjunctivitis from another and often requires a thorough examination with the biomicrosope to make the diagnosis. There are some serious conditions that mimic conjunctivitis.

How to Avoid Pink Eye

Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching or rubbing your eyes. Avoid sharing items that touch your eyes such as washcloths, contact lenses and make-up.

If your child has an eye infection, alert the school. Because viral conjunctivitis is very contagious, it’s a good idea to keep children with pink eye home until the condition resolves. The same is true for adults who work with others.

If you wear contact lenses and develop pink eye, remove your lenses and call the office immediately. Sometimes, more serious contact lens-related infections can mimic conjunctivitis, and appropriate treatment is required.