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Pink Eye

more about Pink Eye


Infectious conjunctivitis, bacterial conjunctivitis, conjunctivitis, red eye, or allergic conjunctivitis



  • Conjunctivitis is a condition in which the white part of the eye becomes inflamed, red, and irritated.  Anything that irritates or infects the white part of the eye can cause conjunctivitis.  Viral and allergic causes tend to have clear or white eye discharge.  Bacterial causes, e.g., staphylococcus, tend to have yellow or green eye discharge.
  • Newborns can develop conjunctivitis as a result of the birth process.  Two organisms of special concern are those responsible for gonorrhea and chlamydia, two common Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).  Mothers who receive prenatal care will be tested for these infections, but these tests are not 100% reliable for finding these diseases, and some women will be infected without their knowledge.

  • White of the eye is red
  • Eye itching
  • Watery eye discharge
  • White eye discharge
  • Yellow or green eye discharge
  • Mild swelling and redness of the eyelids

  • Viruses
  • Gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia
  • Staphylococcus
  • Streptococcus
  • Haemophilus
  • Pseudomonas
  • Moxarella
  • Allergies
  • Dry eyes

  • In most cases, diagnosis is clinical and no testing is necessary.
  • A culture of the eye discharge in newborns is often taken to ensure that the antibiotics being used are effective against the infecting organisms.
  • Clear discharge, sudden onset -- usually viral conjunctivitis ("pink eye")
  • Clear discharge, seasonal, or related to environment -- allergic conjunctivitis
  • Colored discharge -- usually bacterial (can still occasionally be viral) -- cultures may be done
  • Sicca (dry) eyes -- diagnosed by Schirmer's test

  • Viral (pink eye) -- none, but wash hands cautiously and avoid touching eye, as it is very contagious
  • Gonorrhea -- ceftriaxone by injection
  • Chlamydia -- doxycycline, erythromycin, azithromycin
  • Bacterial causes -- antibiotic eye drops, e.g., Polytrim
  • Allergic eyes -- topical lodoxamide, Naphcon A eye drops, other allergy eye drops
  • Dry eyes -- artificial tear drops
  • Treatment precaution:
  • Some antibiotic eye drop preparations contain corticosteroids.  Corticosteroids can be helpful in some infections, but can make others worse.  In most instances, drops containing corticosteroids should only be prescribed by an ophthalmologist (medical doctor who specializes in eye diseases).
  • Some newborns may receive oral medications as well, depending upon the infecting organisms.

  • Infectious conjunctivitis is spread very easily from person to person.
  • The best way to prevent the spread of the infection is washing one's hands after caring for an infected child.
  • Contact lens use increases the risk of bacterial conjunctivitis.  Extended wear contacts have the highest risk.  Use proper sterile techniques when handling your lenses.  Follow instructions carefully on how to clean your lenses.




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