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Conjunctivitis / Red Eye

Red or Pink eye is a condition known as conjunctivitis and is caused by either a virus or bacteria. It is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, the membrane that covers the inside of your eyelid and the white part of your eyes.

Common symptoms consist of red, inflamed eyes starting in one and often moving to the other eye. There may also be burning, itching and swelling of the eyelids. In viral infection, you may have a watery discharge. The discharge is thicker in bacterial conjunctivitis causing the eyelids to stick together in the morning.

Treatment: Viral infections are usually left to your body’s own immune system to clear up, however cold compresses can help relieve the burning and swelling. Bacterial infections usually require an antibiotic drop or ointment such as Polysporin to kill the bacteria. Warm compresses can help keep your eyelids free of discharge and cold compresses can relieve burning and swelling.

If you are a contact lens wearer it is advisable that you discontinue contact lens wear until the infection resolves and that you dispose of your current lenses.

Contagiousness: Bacterial conjunctivitis is typically contagious as soon as symptoms appear and remains contagious as long as there is discharge from the eye or until 24 hours after the antibiotic treatment has started. Viral conjunctivitis is typically contagious before symptoms start and remains contagious as long as the symptoms are present. If you have conjunctivitis it is important to wash your hands frequently, especially after touching your eyes. The infection spreads easily from one eye to the next or to others via contaminated hands or objects.