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Brockport / Health Center / Common Ailments / Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis

What Is It?

  • Commonly known as Pink Eye
  • The conjunctiva is the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye and extends to cover the inner surface of the eyelids.
  • Most times this affects both eyes. It frequently will start in 1 eye and progress to both eyes within 1 – 2 days.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Eye irritation or discomfort. This is sometimes described as tenderness, burning, itching or stickiness.
  • Redness in the white part of the eye.
  • Discharge from the eyes. This is usually worse in the mornings when you first wake up.
  • Eyelids may be swollen.
  • Light sensitivity may accompany other symptoms.

Causes

  • Allergic response
    • Itching is the hallmark symptom of this type of pink eye. This may also be accompanied by a runny nose, sneezing and/or an irritated throat.
    • The discharge is usually clear to white. There may be more tearing.
  • Bacterial infection
    • Eyelids are often swollen with crusty colored discharge when you first wake up
    • The discharge is usually yellow or green
  • Irritation from environmental factors
    • Itching may be a frequent characteristic.
    • There is often excessive tearing.
    • This is frequently associated with contact lens use and/or sleeping in the contacts.
  • Viral infection
    • This is the leading cause of pink eye.
    • This is usually transmitted by our fingers that have the virus on them.
    • Eyelids are frequently swollen with crusty discharge when you first wake up
    • This discharge is usually clear watery.

Prevention

  • Handwashing – Handwashing – Handwashing!
  • Good handwashing is the best method we have to prevent getting pink eye.
  • Treating allergies will help those who get allergic conjunctivitis from suffering from that. There are drops that help you prevent eye symptoms.

Treatment

  • Treatment is dependent upon the cause of the pink eye.
    • Allergic
      • Avoid the substance that you are allergic to if you know what it is.
      • Take your allergy medication. There are tablets that you can purchase over the counter that do not cause drowsiness, such as Claritin.
      • There are medicines that be prescribed if needed.
    • Bacterial
      • This usually lasts about a week.
      • Antibiotic eye drops are prescribed for this.
    • Irritation
      • This will resolve spontaneously with avoidance of the irritation.
      • Do not sleep in contacts that are not made to be worn to bed.
      • Keep your eye moist with artificial tears to decrease the discomfort.
    • Viral
      • This will resolve spontaneously also. However, because it is a virus, it must run its course. Antibiotic drops will not help it to resolve faster.
      • Eye secretions are infectious for 7 days after the onset of symptoms.
      • Keep your eye moist with artificial tears as needed for comfort.

When to see a provider

  • Any time you would like your eye symptoms evaluated come to the Health Center or see the provider of your choice.
  • Any time the treatment that was started is not helping within 2 days.
  • Any time you have worsening symptoms, including pain or vision changes.

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Last Updated 5/21/12

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