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Blue Eyes


Understanding Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis and pink eye are terms that get thrown around a lot. You probably have a general idea of what conjunctivitis is and may have even had it yourself. But did you know there are multiple types of conjunctivitis? Do you know which cases are contagious and which aren’t?


By learning a little bit more about conjunctivitis, you’re preparing yourself to handle it the next time you or someone you love comes down with a case of pink eye.

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What is Conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis (sometimes known as pink eye or red eye) is an inflammation of the conjunctiva; the mucous membrane covering the surface of the eye. This condition can be caused by a number of sources and is categorised into types based on the cause.

The combination of symptoms a patient might experience depends on which strain of conjunctivitis they’ve contracted. Symptoms can include:

  • Excessive tears

  • Stringy discharge from the eye

  • Sticky yellow or greenish discharge from the eye

  • Burning or itching

  • Swelling

  • Redness

  • Sensitivity to light

  • Blurry vision

While conjunctivitis isn’t enough of an emergency to require a trip to the ER, it does need to be dealt with. If you think you’re suffering from conjunctivitis, you need to see a doctor. Book an appointment with us; our optometrists will determine what kind of conjunctivitis you’re experiencing, recommend the appropriate treatment, and give you important instructions to follow during recovery.

The treatment for conjunctivitis varies from strain to strain. It’s very important that you let a doctor diagnose and treat you rather than trying to do it yourself.

Types of Conjunctivitis

Bacterial Conjunctivitis

This form of conjunctivitis is caused a bacterial infection in the eye. It can be picked up from a swimming pool, a local playground, or even through a particularly tenacious sinus infection.

One symptom that’s more characteristic of bacterial conjunctivitis than other strains is a very thick, sticky green or yellow discharge. This discharge can be so sticky, patients wake up to find the affected eye sealed shut. You can remedy this by wetting a clean washcloth and gently dabbing at the eye until the crust starts to loosen and come away. Be sure to wash the cloth immediately.


Like the viral strain, bacterial conjunctivitis is extremely contagious. Stay out of public as much as possible, wash anything that’s come into contact with the infected eye, and dispose of any cosmetics you’ve used on it.

Viral Conjunctivitis

Much like influenza, the common cold, and cold sores, this strain of conjunctivitis is caused by a viral infection. It can actually be caused by the same virus infecting different parts of your body. For example: if you have a common cold, coughing on your hand and rubbing your eye could spread the virus to your eye, causing conjunctivitis.

Viral conjunctivitis usually starts in one eye but can spread to the other due to its contagious nature. To avoid spreading the virus, you should stay out of public as much as possible and thoroughly wash any clothing or linens that come into contact with the infected eye.

Allergic Conjunctivitis


An allergic reaction occurs when the human body detects a certain stimulus (pollen, pet dander, dust) and mistakes it something dangerous. It then goes on the defensive to protect the body from illness. Allergic conjunctivitis is one of the ways your body does this.

Certain allergens cause patients to experience water, red, itchy eyes. The best way to avoid this is to remove the allergen from your day to day life as much as possible. You may also want to try antihistamines or allergy medications.

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