Overview of Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is also known as pink eye. It is an eye condition that causes the tissue that covers the white of the eye to become inflamed, red and infected. There are several ways that conjunctivitis can occur.

The signs and symptoms of each are fairly similar. The most distinct is the swelling and redness, which is what gives the disorder the name, pink eye. Also there is itching, pain, and possible discharge.

Recognizing and knowing the symptoms and signs of conjunctivitis is important because it is highly contagious. The sooner it is treated, the less likely it will be spread to the other eye or to other people.
People often mistake it simply for a minor allergic reaction during the first stages. While there is an allergic conjunctivitis, that is not contagious, it is much less common than the infectious type of conjunctivitis that is due to bacteria or a virus.

Since the symptoms of each are close to the same, it is important that you seek a doctors care to determine the cause. Regardless of the cause, the skin that outlines the eyelid as well as the whites of the eyes will become inflamed and red which will cause the eyes to become swollen. The eye will be itchy and have a scratchy feeling. There may also be a feeling as if there is something in the eye. It will cause conjunctivitis sufferers to rub their eyes, which is how the infection is spread from eye to eye and person to person.

If conjunctivitis is not treated quickly it will lead to a watery discharge and then a more puss-like discharge. Often times this discharge can cause the eyelashes to stick together during sleep. When the infection becomes severe there may be vision problems such as blurring and/or double vision. If this is the case, then medical attention needs to be sought immediately. There are four major forms of conjunctivitis. Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by bacterial infections and usually occurs in both eyes.

The discharge will be heavy and yellow or green in color. Viral conjunctivitis is usually just in one eye and the discharge will be clear, like a watery eye. Allergic conjunctivitis is going to most likely be in both eyes unless caused by a foreign body that is just in one eye. It is often mistaken for viral conjunctivitis. Lastly, there is giant papillary conjunctivitis or GPC. This type of conjunctivitis will affect both eyes and along with the heavy discharge, there will be small red bumps on the eyelid.

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