When your eyes are irritated, they may appear red and tired. When the transparent membrane that covers the white part of your eyes becomes inflamed, you may have conjunctivitis, which is more commonly known as pink eye.
While people of all ages can have pink eye, more cases are seen in children than in adults, largely because children are more prone to colds and other respiratory tract infections. If your child develops pink eye, be sure to notify the school so classroom surfaces can be sanitized. Children with pink eye should stay away from other children until the contagious phase has passed, which usually takes 3 to 5 days after the infection is diagnosed.
Types of Pink Eye
• Bacterial conjunctivitis often spreads to both eyes and causes a heavy discharge which may have a greenish color. It can be spread by contact with someone else who has the infection, by touching contaminated surfaces, or by sinus or ear infections. Bacterial conjunctivitis can also result from some sexually transmitted diseases including gonorrhea and chlamydia. The chlamydial infection can cause scarring on the eye, and is the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness.
• Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious and typically affects only one eye, which has excessive tearing and a light discharge. It can accompany viral upper respiratory infections such as measles, the flu, or the common cold and can be spread through airborne contact when someone sneezes or coughs.
• Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by eye allergies and usually appears in both eyes. It can be triggered by pollens, animal dander, dust mites, and other allergens. While this type of conjunctivitis is not contagious, it can result in watery, itchy red eyes and may be seasonal or year-round, depending on the allergen.
• Giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC) usually involves both eyes and often affects wearers of soft contact lenses.