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More commonly referred to colloquially as “pink eye” or “red eye”, conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the eye’s conjunctiva (white part surrounding the pupil). There are many causes of conjunctivitis, with treatment and management options differing depending on the cause (explained below).
If you have conjunctivitis, you may be contagious. We recommend seeking a diagnosis prior to returning to school or work.

Conjunctivitis Symptoms

  • A red/pink appearance to the eye and/or its surrounding tissues (hence its nickname)
  • Thick yellow discharge that crusts over the eyelids and eyelashes (especially while sleeping)
  • Itchy, burning, or stinging sensations in the eye
  • Watery eyes
  • Hazy, blurred vision
  • A green or white discharge from the eye

Causes of Conjunctivitis

There are three main causes of conjunctivitis:

  • Pathogens – Certain types of bacteria and viruses can cause pink eye. This is the type most commonly seen at school. Incidentally, it’s also highly contagious. This type of conjunctivitis is called pathogenic conjunctivitis.
  • Allergies – Allergens, be they seasonal or otherwise, can cause conjunctivitis. This type of conjunctivitis is called allergic conjunctivitis.
  • Environmental – Irritants in your environment, such as poor air quality (dust/etc.), soaps, perfumes, etc. can also cause conjunctivitis. This type of conjunctivitis is called – yep, you guessed it – environmental conjunctivitis.

Conjunctivitis Treatments

Treatment for conjunctivitis depends on its cause.

Pathogenic Conjunctivitis

After a quick assessment to confirm the cause, we will then provide treatment for the symptoms. A severe cause of bacterial conjunctivitis will be treated with antibiotics. Otherwise, the pathogen will be left to run its course (1 to 2 weeks).

Allergic Conjunctivitis

This variant of conjunctivitis is generally treated with antihistamines. Other options, such as immunotherapy, can provide long-term relief.

Environmental Conjunctivitis

While we can provide treatments to relieve your symptoms, only determining the environmental cause (and then removing yourself from it) will permanently address environmental conjunctivitis.

Written by Dr. Kyla Hunter

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