A common and highly contagious infection of the eye that is caused by bacteria, a virus, or allergies. Pink eye is also known as conjunctivitis because it is an inflammation of the conjunctiva – the thin transparent layer covering the white part of the eye.
Bacterial conjunctivitis commonly presents with yellow or green discharge in one or both eyes, sometimes causing the eyelids to stick together. It can be treated with antibiotic eye drops prescribed by your optometrist.
Viral conjunctivitis generally results in watery, itchy eyes that can be sensitive to light. Viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics, and viral conjunctivitis will usually go away on its own. To ease the discomfort, you can use a warm washcloth, but take care not to share the washcloth with anyone to avoid spreading the infection.
Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious, often accompanies a stuffy or runny nose, and presents with watery, burning, itching sensations in both eyes. Taking over the counter allergy medications regularly, or using eye drops specifically for allergies may relieve the symptoms.