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Eye Specialists of Westchester

Office (914) 235-9500
Optical (914) 235-8262

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Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

Pink eye, the common name for conjunctivitis, is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, the outer, normally clear covering of the sclera, the white part of the eye. The eye appears pink in conjunctivitis because the blood vessels are dilated. Pink eye is often accompanied by a discharge, but the vision is usually normal, and the discomfort is mild.

Either a viral or a bacterial infection may cause conjunctivitis. Viral infections are more common and may cause an upper respiratory infection (or cold) at the same time. Viral infections are treated with eyedrops to alleviate symptoms. Bacterial infections are treated with a variety of antibiotic eyedrops or ointments..

Conjunctivitis can be very contagious. People who have conjuctivitis should not share towels and pillowcases with others, and they should wash their hands frequently. They may need to stay home from school or work, and they should stay out of swimming pools.

Not everyone with conjunctivitis has an infection. Allergies can cause conjunctivitis as well. Typically, people with allergic conjunctivitis have itchy eyes, especially in the spring and fall. Eyedrops to control itching are used to treat allergic conjunctivitis. It is important not to use medications that contain steroids unless they are prescribed by an ophthalmologist.

Finally, not everyone with a pink or red eye has conjunctivitis. Sometimes, more serious diseases, such as cornea infections, severe glaucoma, or inflammation on the inside of the eye, can cause the conjunctiva to become inflamed and pink. If vision is affected, or if the problem does not get better in a few days, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Scharf or Dr. Donev.