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Conjunctivitis: What the public generally calls "pink eye". There are 3 basic kinds of conjunctivitis: viral, bacterial, and allergic. Each variety is treated differently.

Conjunctivitis is swelli
ng (inflammation) or infection of the membrane (conjunctiva) lining the eyelids and white part of the eye (sclera).

There are many causes of conjunctivitis. Viruses are the most common cause. Other causes include:

  • Allergies (allergic conjunctivitis)

  • Bacteria & Certain diseases

  • Chemical exposure

  • Chlamydia

  • Fungi

  • Parasites (rarely)

  • Use of contact lenses (especially extended-wear lenses)

"Pink eye" refers to a viral infection of the conjunctiva. These infections are especially contagious among children.

Newborns can be infected by bacteria in the birth canal. This condition is called ophthalmia neonatorum, and it must be treated immediately to preserve eyesight.

Treatment of conjunctivitis depends on the cause.

Allergic conjunctivitis is usually treated with anti-inflammatory drugs. It may disappear on its own when the allergen that caused it is removed. Cool compresses may help soothe allergic conjunctivitis.

Antibiotic medication, usually eye drops, is effective for bacterial conjunctivitis. Viral conjunctivitis usually will disappear on its own. due to its highly contagious characteristics, however, it is then very difficult to eradicate. Many doctors give a mild antibiotic eyedrop for pink eye to prevent bacterial conjunctivitis. You can soothe the discomfort of viral or bacterial conjunctivitis by applying warm compresses (clean cloths soaked in warm water) to your closed eyes.