Pink eye, also referred to as conjunctivitis, is a condition where the surface of the eyeball and the inner lining of the eyelid become inflamed.
The causes of pink eye can vary and include bacterial or viral infections, allergies, irritants, and other underlying infectious or noninfectious diseases.
While conjunctivitis can affect individuals of all ages, it is more commonly observed in children.
Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is most commonly attributed to a viral infection, although a bacterial infection can also be responsible.
Bacterial conjunctivitis can be caused by various strains, including Staphylococci, Streptococci, Gonococci, or Chlamydia.
On the other hand, viral conjunctivitis can arise from an array of viruses, such as adenoviruses.
The virus or bacteria from an infected person’s eye can spread through contact with skin, eyewear, cosmetics, cosmetic brushes, linens, or towels. It’s noteworthy that pink eye can even be transmitted from one eye to the other in the same individual. Taking proper precautions and seeking timely medical attention are crucial to prevent the spread and manage pink eye effectively.
In cases when an infection is not present, pink eye can be contributed to:
Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by the body’s reaction to allergens such as pollen from trees, plants, grasses, weeds, medicine, cosmetics or molds. Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious.
Risk of viral or bacterial pink eye can be reduced with proper hygiene, disinfection and by eliminating contact with others who have the condition.
Risk factors for non-infectious pink eye include:
• Dry eyes — having naturally dry eyes or not protecting the eyes in windy or dry environments can contribute to pink eye.
• Allergies — those who have pollen, mold or other allergies are likely to develop pink eye as a response to exposure of allergens.
• Use of contact lenses
Symptoms of pink eye vary depending on the cause of the irritation.
Symptoms of viral pink eye include:
• Watery discharge that resemble tears
• Runny nose
• Sinus congestion
• Puffy or swollen eyelids
• Sensitivity to light
Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious and will remain transmittable and can cause symptoms for as long as two weeks.
Symptoms of bacterial pink eye include:
• Red, itchy or burning eye
• Thick green or yellow eye discharge that turns crusty overnight
• Swollen lymph nodes above the jaw (in front of ears)
Symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis are most common during allergy season in a patient who has other allergic rhinitis symptoms such as hay fever, asthma or eczema.