Pink eye or conjunctivitis is an inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane, the conjunctiva, that lines the eyelid and covers the white part of the eyeball. Pink eye occurs when the small blood vessels in the conjunctiva become inflamed. Because the blood vessels are more visible, the whites of the eye become pink or red.
Pink eye is commonly caused by a bacterial infection, viral infection, or an allergic reaction. In infants and babies, pink eye occurs when a tear duct is not completely opened. People with symptoms of pink eye are considered highly contagious, except when the condition is brought on by allergies. Early diagnosis and treatment of pink eye help limit its spread.
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Though pink eye can be irritating, it rarely affects your vision. Treatments can help ease the discomfort and include cold or hot compresses to reduce swelling, wiping the eyes with a clean cloth, using artificial tears to add moisture, and antihistamine eye drops. A doctor can prescribe antibiotic eye drops to treat bacterial pink eye. Viral infections such as herpes are treated with antiviral medications. Those who contract pink eye should immediately clean and disinfect all eyewear, stop using contact lenses until the infection clears, and discard disposable contact lenses. Avoid using makeup while infected, and consider throwing away makeup used in the preceding days.
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