• Conjunctivitis (commonly known as pinkeye), is an inflammation of the transparent membrane (the conjunctiva) that lines the eyelids and the eyeball up to the margin of the cornea. Conjunctivitis can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, by an allergic reaction, or, in newborns, by an incompletely opened tear duct.

    Both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are common among children and are extremely infectious. Conjunctivitis can spread through a whole classroom of children in a matter of a few days.

    Signs and Symptoms

    • Redness in the eyes;
    • Gritty feeling in the eye;
    • Itching of the eye;
    • Discharge in the eye that forms a crust during the night;
    • Blurred vision and sensitivity to light.

    The Diagnosis

    All forms of conjunctivitis share certain symptoms. The white of the eye becomes red or pink, and the eye feels gritty when you blink. The eye also produces a yellowish discharge that forms a crust during the night. This sticky crust can seal the eyes shut and you may have to pry the lids gently apart or to soak off the crusts.

    Viral conjunctivitis usually produces a small amount of watery discharge, whereas bacterial conjunctivitis often produces a good deal of thicker matter.

    How Serious Is Conjunctivitis?

    The inflammation of conjunctivitis makes it an irritating condition, but it is usually harmless to sight. However, because it can be highly contagious, it must be diagnosed and treated early.