You are here:


Your Appointment

    What is Conjunctivitis?

    Understanding About

    Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is characterized by inflammation of the conjunctiva, the transparent membrane covering the eyelid and eyeball. This inflammation causes the small blood vessels in the conjunctiva to swell and become irritated, making them more visible and giving the eyes a reddish or pink appearance. 

    Pink eye is commonly caused by viral or bacterial infections, allergic reactions, or, in infants, an incompletely opened tear duct. While it can be bothersome, pink eyes rarely affect vision. 

    Treatments are available to alleviate discomfort, and early diagnosis and precautions are recommended to prevent its spread due to its contagious nature.

    Conjunctivitis FAQs

    Viruses and bacteria that cause conjunctivitis can be very contagious. Each type of germ can be spread from person-person in different ways. Usually, germs can spread from an infected person to other people through close personal contact (this includes touching or shaking hands), from respiratory droplets through coughing or sneezing, as well as by touching surfaces that have been contaminated with germs, and then touching your eyes before washing your hands.
    A doctor will be able to determine whether the cause of the conjunctivitis is a bacterium, virus or allergen, based on the history, symptoms, and examination. Although not routinely done, your doctor may collect a sample of eye discharge from the infected eye to test for the germ that is causing the conjunctivitis. It is important to note that there may be other causes of the eye symptoms other than conjunctivitis. Your doctor will exclude the following causes that include, but are not limited to, chemical burns, iritis, uveitis, glaucoma and trachoma.
    Practicing good hand hygiene is important. Disease spread can be limited by washing your hands regularly with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, especially before and after cleaning or applying eye drops to your infected eye. You may also use sanitizer with 60% alcohol to clean your hands if soap or water is not available. Avoid touching your eyes and face. Wash all pillowcases, sheets, washcloths, and towels in hot water with detergent. Do not share personal items such as pillows, makeup, or eyeglasses. Do not use swimming pools.
    People with conjunctivitis have a pink or red color of the white of the eye/eyes. There is swelling of the conjunctiva and/or eyelids. Patients can also experience an increased tear production, itching, irritating or a burning sensation. There may be discharge (pus or mucus) as well as crusting of the eyelids or lashes (most commonly in the morning). Depending on the cause of the conjunctivitis, other symptoms may occur.
    If your conjunctivitis is associated with any of the following, further medical attention should be sought from a healthcare provider. These include pain in the eye, sensitivity to light or blurred vision that does not improve when discharge is wiped from the eye, intense redness in the eye, symptoms not improving (including bacterial conjunctivitis that does not improve with antibiotics after 24 hours), as well as if you have a weakened immune system (due to HIV infection, cancer treatment or other medical conditions).