Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, is an infection of the conjunctiva, which is a clear, thin membrane that covers the eyeball and the inside of the eyelids.  Conjunctivitis can be bacterial, viral or allergic in origin.  

Viral conjunctivitis usually presents with redness of the white part of the eye (sclera) or the inner eyelids, clear or thin yellowish discharge and sometimes puffy lids.  It often is accompanied by a cold.  It usually lasts as long as the cold, about 7 to10 days.  Antibiotics will not cure a viral infection.

Bacterial conjunctivitis can develop as a complication of a cold or a non-resolved viral conjunctivitis.  This infection will also present with redness in the sclera, but will cause a thick yellow discharge (pus) to develop in the eye and the eyelids to be stuck together upon waking.  Antibiotic eyedrops are usually necessary to clear this infection.

Allergic conjunctivitis cause itchy watery red eyes.  It tends to occur during allergy seasons, mostly spring and fall.  Treatment consists of allergy eyedrops, oral allergy medicine or a combination of both.  Both are available over the counter.

You should call the doctor if your eye is not improving after 2-3 days of treatment or getting worse, if your outer eyelids become very red or swollen or if you experience eye pain and/or blurry vision.
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Silver Spring Pediatrics
Drs. DeConcini, Schooler, Zang, Wang, Yee & Marcus
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