What Causes Pink Eye?

Causes of Pink Eye

Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is a common condition that causes inflammation of the conjunctiva—the thin, transparent layer that covers the white part of the eye and lines the inner surface of the eyelids. Several factors can cause pink eye, including:

  • Viral Infections: Viruses, particularly adenoviruses, are a common cause of viral conjunctivitis. It spreads easily from person to person through respiratory droplets or by touching surfaces contaminated with the virus and then touching the eyes.
  • Bacterial Infections: Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, or Haemophilus influenzae. It can also spread through direct contact or by touching contaminated objects.
  • Allergies: Allergic conjunctivitis is triggered by allergens such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, or certain chemicals. It can cause both eyes to become red and itchy and may be seasonal or year-round, depending on the allergen.
  • Irritants: Exposure to irritants like smoke, smog, chemicals, chlorine in swimming pools, or harsh eye drops can cause irritation and inflammation of the conjunctiva.
  • Contact Lenses: Improper use or poor hygiene with contact lenses can lead to contact lens-induced conjunctivitis, often caused by bacteria or other pathogens on the lenses.
  • Newborns: Newborn babies can develop conjunctivitis due to their underdeveloped tear ducts, which can become blocked or infected.

Pink eye typically presents with symptoms such as redness of the eyes, watery or sticky discharge, itching, burning sensation, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision. The specific symptoms and treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the conjunctivitis.

Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are contagious and can spread easily. To prevent the spread of pink eye, it’s essential to practice good hygiene, such as frequent handwashing, avoiding touching the eyes with unwashed hands, not sharing personal items like towels or eye makeup, and staying home from school or work until symptoms improve.

If you suspect you have pink eye or have any concerning eye symptoms, it’s crucial to consult an eye doctor or healthcare professional for proper evaluation and treatment. They can determine the cause of the conjunctivitis and recommend the appropriate course of action, which may include eye drops, ointments, or other treatments to alleviate symptoms and promote healing.

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