We all know someone who has had pink eye but how much do you know about the condition? We’ve compiled some basic facts about pink eye to keep you in the know. Conjunctivitis, better known as “pink eye,” is a common eye condition that causes inflammation (swelling) of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the thin layer that lines the inside of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. The most common causes of conjunctivitis are viruses, bacteria and allergens. The conjunctiva can also be irritated by foreign bodies in the eye and by indoor and outdoor air pollution.
Viral conjunctivitis is caused by infection of the eye with a virus; it can be caused by a number of different viruses, many of which may be associated with an upper respiratory tract infection, cold, or sore throat. Viral conjunctivitis usually begins in one eye and may progress to the second eye within days. It spreads easily and rapidly between people and can result in epidemics but is typically mild. Viral conjunctivitis usually clears up in 7-14 days without treatment and resolves without any long-term effects.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by infection of the eye with certain bacteria. Bacterial conjunctivitis usually begins in one eye and may sometimes progress to the second eye. It is the leading cause of children missing school or day care. Cases of bacterial conjunctivitis are typically mild; they can last as few as 2-3 days or up to 2-3 weeks. Although many cases improve in 2-5 days without treatment, topical antibiotics are often prescribed to treat the infection
Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by the body’s reaction to certain substances to which it is allergic. These substances can include, but are not limited to, pollen from trees, plants, and weeds, dust mites, molds, dander from animals, contact lenses and cosmetics. Allergic conjunctivitis occurs more frequently among people with other allergic conditions, such as hay fever, asthma, and eczema. Allergic conjunctivitis can occur seasonally or year-round and usually occurs in both eyes. Unlike other forms of conjunctivitis, allergic conjunctivitis clears up once the allergen or irritant is removed or after treatment with allergy medications.