Conjunctivitis can be either an irritation or an infection of the membrane that covers the white of the eye and the inside lining of the eyelid. It has become commonly known as "pink eye" due to the significant blood vessel inflammation that can occur.
Allergies and other irritants like air pollution, eye make up, and contact lenses cause irritation conjunctivitis. Infection conjunctivitis has two categories—viral and bacterial. The viral type usually accompanies a cold, fever, sore throat, or flu and is characterized by eye redness and a watery discharge. The bacterial type presents with eye redness, a mucous like discharge, and is usually caused by a staph or strep bacteria.
Some bacterial and viral pinkeye can easily be passed between people, and it is common for children to experience this type of conjunctivitis. The symptoms are generally mild and do not pose a serious threat to eye health, but conjunctivitis in newborns should be addressed by a doctor right away to help ensure no vision loss occurs.
Conjunctivitis is treated differently depending on the cause. Most cases can be successfully treated with antibiotics, eye drops, or ointments.
The doctors are trained and equipped to make the correct diagnosis of the type of conjunctivitis. In some cases, symptoms can progress to more serious eye condition and vision damage so professional evaluation is important.