Conjunctivitis, or “pink eye”, refers to inflammation of the conjunctiva, the translucent, outer most tissue on the front surface of the eye. Conjunctivitis is a non-specific term, as it can be caused by any inflammatory condition: allergy, virus, bacteria.
Conjunctivitis often causes ocular redness and a foreign-body sensation. There can be a clear, mucoid or purulent discharge from the eye and is often accompanied by intense itching. Bacterial conjunctivitis often involves only one eye, whereas viral conjunctivitis starts in one eye and spreads to the other, and allergic conjunctivitis affects both eyes from the onset.
Treatment for conjunctivitis depends largely on the cause of the inflammation. If it is bacterial in origin, a broad-spectrum topical antibiotic is often prescribed. For viral infections (as is true with the common cold), antibiotic treatments are of little benefit. Cool compresses, artificial tears and hand hygiene are are recommended. Similar to the common cold, viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious and the8 patient should take great caution in avoiding the spread to others until the eye is no longer red and tearing. Allergic conjunctivitis is most readily treated with antihistamines (topical and/or systemic) and artificial tears.