One of the more common conditions I see in the clinic that causes a lot of concern is "pink eye" otherwise known as conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis just means "inflammation of the conjunctiva".
The conjunctiva is the membrane that lines the inner eyelid and the surface of much of the globe and is generally transparent. When it is inflamed it looks pink or red, hence "pink eye". While conjunctivitis is characterized by a red eye not all red eyes are conjunctivitis.
Common causes of conjunctivitis include infection from bacteria or viruses. Allergies are also a common cause.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is spread by direct contact. Patients typically complain of redness and discharge in one eye. The discharge is typically thick. Viruses also cause similar discharge but it tends to be more watery. Allergies present with similar symptoms as viral causes but sometimes can be characterized by the degree of itchiness.
Other more rare causes include dry eye, chemical irritation, or foreign bodies.
Red flags symptoms that should be addressed immediately by an eye medical doctor otherwise known as an ophthalmologist include:
In conclusion, if you find that you have signs or symptoms of "pink eye" see your doctor for further evaluation but don't assume that you need an antibiotic or that bacteria are to blame.
Of course, each individual case is different and the advice in this post should not substitute for getting a consultation with your doctor.
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