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Conjunctivitis (also called pink eye) is diagnosed when there is inflammation of the outermost layer of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids, also known as the conjunctiva. It is most commonly due to an infection or an allergic reaction.

There are several types of conjunctivitis:

  • Allergic conjunctivitis
  • Bacterial conjunctivitis
  • Viral conjunctivitis
  • Chemical conjunctivitis
  • Neonatal conjunctivitis


With all types of conjunctivitis, there are common symptoms: Red eye, irritation and watering of the eyes. However, the pupils should show normal reaction to light and dark, and general vision should be normal.

Viral conjunctivitis shows a fine diffuse pinkness of the conjunctiva, from which its common name of pink eye” is derived. Viral conjunctivitis is often associated with an infection of the upper respiratory tract, a common cold, and/or a sore throat. Its symptoms include watery discharge and variable itch. The infection usually begins with one eye, but can easily spread to the other eye.

Bacterial conjunctivitis causes marked grittiness/irritation and a stringy, opaque, greyish or yellowish mucous discharge that may cause the lids to stick together, especially after sleep. Another symptom that could be caused by bacterial conjunctivitis is severe crusting of the infected eye and the surrounding skin. However, the mucous discharge is not an essential element of the type. The gritty and/or scratchy feeling is sometimes localized enough for patients to insist they must have a foreign body in the eye. It is dormant in the eye for three days before the patient shows signs of symptoms, and is easily spread from one eye to the other.

Irritant or toxic conjunctivitis is irritable or painful, but discharge and itch are usually absent. This is the only group in which severe pain and discomfort may occur and shows primarily a marked redness of the eye. If due to a toxic splash injury, it is often present only in the lower conjunctival sac.

Inclusion conjunctivitis of the newborn (ICN) is a conjunctivitis that may be caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis and may lead to acute, purulent conjunctivitis. However, it is usually self-healing.


Conjunctivitis is most commonly caused by viral infection, but bacterial infections, allergies, other irritants and dryness are also common entries for its occurrence. Both bacterial and viral infections are contagious. Commonly, conjunctival infections are passed from person to person, but can also spread through contaminated objects or water.

The most common cause of viral conjunctivitis is adenoviruses. Herpetic keratoconjunctivitis (caused by herpes simplex viruses) can be serious and requires treatment with acyclovir.

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I walked in with a very red eye and someone checked me within a short time. She made me feel much better and that it was not serious. I really appreciate the quick service. I was very impressed with the office.

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