Conjunctivitis, is an inflammation of the transparent membrane (or conjunctiva) that lines the eyelids and eye. It is a common condition that is usually minor; however it is uncomfortable and when caused by an infection, can be highly contagious.

What Causes Conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis can come from many causes, but it generally is the result of a bacterial or viral infection. In some cases, it may come from allergies, environmental chemicals, or passed on from a mother to child during childbirth. In any case, the underlying cause will determine the course of treatment.

Symptoms of Conjunctivitis

 An eye care professional can determine the presence and cause of conjunctivitis through an examination of the conjunctiva and surrounding area.

Aside from its trademark pink coloration, other telltale signs include:

  • Feeling of foreign objects in one or both eyes

  • Itching or burning in one or both eyes

  • Yellowish discharge from one or both eyes

  • Excess tearing from one or both eyes

  • Build-up or crusting overnight that makes it difficult to open your eyes

  • Swollen eyelids

Your doctor may or may not start you on the appropriate antibiotic drops based on whether your infection is viral or bacterial in nature.

Treatments for Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis will generally run its course but many steps can be taken to limit its spread and treat the infection. These include washing hands frequently, using a fresh tissue every time you wipe your eyes, immediately disposing of used tissues, and not sharing anything that may come into contact with your eyes like handkerchiefs, towels, sunglasses, makeup, eye drops, or pillows.

Your doctor may prescribe eye drops to treat the infection.