Conjunctivitis

Also known as: pink eye.

What is conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is an eye infection of the transparent tissue surrounding the eye that is common among children. It leads to some uncomfortable symptoms, but it is typically not a serious illness and tends to resolve fairly quickly.

What causes conjunctivitis?

An infection from a virus or bacteria is the most common cause of conjunctivitis. Allergies can also cause conjunctivitis, as can an irritant such as chemicals or an object getting stuck in the eye.

The viral and bacterial forms of conjunctivitis are contagious and can be spread from person to person.

What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis?

When conjunctivitis occurs, the eye or eyes have a mucous discharge. This can dry overnight and prevent the eye from opening. The eyes are also red, itchy, feel gritty and produce excessive tears.

In some cases, the infection can start in one eye and spread to the other.

What are conjunctivitis care options?

Antibiotic eye drops or eye ointments can start to clear up bacterial conjunctivitis within a few days. Viral conjunctivitis will not respond to antibiotics, but antiviral medications can help in some instances.

Antihistamine medication, decongestants and other allergy medications can help with allergic conjunctivitis.


Reviewed by: Zenia P Aguilera, M.D.

This page was last updated on: November 18, 2021 10:48 AM

Infectious Diseases

The Division of Infectious Diseases at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital uses state-of-the-art diagnostic tools to identify acute or chronic viral and bacterial diseases, so that we can treat it effectively as quickly as possible.

Learn more

Learn more about

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C)

MIS-C is a serious health condition found in children that appears to be associated with COVID-19 (coronavirus). Learn more

Photophobia

To a certain degree, everybody can be sensitive to light from time to time, particularly bright sunlight. Learn more