Conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the thin clear tissue that lies over the white part of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid. Most people do not know there are three different kinds of conjunctivitis:
- Viral conjunctivitisis the most common type of pink eye. This conjunctivitis is very contagious and often spreads through schools and other crowded places. It usually causes burning, red eyes with a watery discharge. Conjunctivitis is most commonly caused by the same virus that causes the runny nose and sore throat of the common cold.
- Bacterial conjunctivitisis also very contagious. An infection from bacteria causes this form of pink eye. With bacterial conjunctivitis, you have sore, red eyes with discharge. Some bacterial infections, however, may cause little or no discharge. Sometimes the bacteria that cause pink eye are the same that cause strep throat. Both bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are easily spread from person to person.
- Allergic conjunctivitisis a type of pink eye that comes from an allergic reaction to something. It is not contagious.Allergic pink eyemakes your eyes very itchy, red and watery, and the eyelids may get puffy. Sometimes having an allergic reaction to pollen or animals can cause conjunctivitis. Theirritation can also come from cigarette smoke, car fumes, pool chlorine or other toxic substances.
Unless it is allergic, pink eye is highly contagious and travels very quickly, especially among children in environments such as playgrounds and classrooms. It is extremely unlikely to damage your vision and if it is treated immediately and properly, there will be no no long-term problems. Some tips to prevent the spread of conjunctivitis are:
- If you have pink eye stay at home to reduce the possibility of spreading the infection to someone else
- Wash your hands frequently
- Change pillowcases and bed sheets frequently
- Disinfect remotes, table tops, kitchen counters, and other household things that others will touch
- Refrain from rubbing or touching the eyes to avoid the spread of bacteria and viruses