Conjunctivitis or “pink eye” describes swelling of the conjunctiva, which is the thin, filmy membrane that covers the inside of the eyelids and the white (sclera) portion of the eye and keeps the surface of the eyes moist and protected. When the conjunctiva becomes irritated or swollen, the blood vessels become larger, thus making the eye appear red. This condition makes the white of the eye appear pink or red and discharge may or may not be present. Common symptoms of conjunctivitis may include burning, itching, irritation, discharge, or crusting of the lashes. There are three types of conjunctivitis: bacterial, viral and allergic. Bacterial or viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious. If the conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria, treatment with antibiotic drops or ointment may be indicated. Using the medication for the full prescribed duration is necessary to prevent a recurrence. Viral conjunctivitis does not respond to antibiotics. Allergic conjunctivitis can be treated with allergy eye drops. Signs of pink eye may occur in one or both eyes.
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