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Pink, itchy eyes? Pink eye or conjunctivitis is common and can spread easily. It sometimes needs medical treatment, depending on the cause. Know the symptoms, how to help prevent it, and when to seek treatment.

Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is one of the most common eye conditions in children and adults. It is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, clear tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid and the white part of the eyeball. This inflammation makes blood vessels more visible and gives the eye a pink or reddish color.

What Are the Symptoms of Pink Eye?

The signs and symptoms of pink eye may vary depending on the cause, but they usually include:

Redness or swelling of the white of the eye or inside the eyelids
Increased amount of tears
White, yellow or green eye discharge
Normal eye vs. eye with inflamed or orritated conjuctiva
Signs and symptoms of pink eye can vary, but typically include redness or swelling of the white of the eye, itchy eyes, burning eyes, increased sensitivity to light, gritty feeling in the eye and crusting of the eyelids or lashes.

What Causes Pink Eye?

There are four main causes of pink eye:

Allergens (like pet dander or dust mites)
Irritants (like smog or swimming pool chlorine) that infect or irritate the eye and eyelid lining
How Do I Stop Pink Eye from Spreading?

Viral and bacterial pink eye are very contagious and can spread easily and quickly from person to person. You can reduce the risk of getting or spreading pink eye by following some simple self-care steps, like washing your hands and not touching your eyes. See conjunctivitis prevention. Pink eye that is caused by allergens or irritants is not contagious, but it is possible to develop a secondary infection by other viruses or bacteria.

How Is Pink Eye Treated?

The treatment for pink eye depends on the cause. Pink eye is usually mild and will often get better on its own, even without treatment. However, there are times when it is important to see a health care provider and get an antibiotic or other medical treatment. See conjunctivitis treatment.

When Should I Call a Health Care Provider?

Most cases of pink eye are mild and get better without treatment. However, some forms are more severe. Severe cases need to be looked at by a health care provider and may require specific treatment and close follow-up. If you have pink eye, you should see your health care provider if you have:

Moderate to severe pain in your eye(s)
Blurred vision or increased sensitivity to light
Intense redness in the eye(s)
A weakened immune system, for example, from HIV or cancer treatment
Bacterial pink eye that does not improve after 24 hours of antibiotic use
Symptoms that get worse or don't improve
Pre-existing eye conditions that may put you at risk for complications or severe infection
Pink eye in newborns can be very serious because it may cause long-term eye problems or lead to infection of organs other than the eye.
Pink Eye in Newborns

A newborn baby who has symptoms of pink eye should see a health care provider. Pink eye in newborns can be caused by an infection, irritation, or a blocked tear duct. It can be very serious because it may cause long-term eye problems or lead to infection of organs other than the eye.

Neonatal pink eye can also be caused by sexually transmitted infections, like gonorrhea or chlamydia, and be passed from mother to baby most commonly during birth. If you are pregnant and think you may have a sexually transmitted infection, visit your health care provider for testing and treatment. If you don't know whether you have a sexually transmitted infection but have recently given birth and your newborn shows signs of pink eye, visit your child's health care provider right away.

Most hospitals are required by state law to put drops or ointment in a newborn's eyes to prevent pink eye. For more information, see conjunctivitis in newborns.

Pinkeye Primer For Daycare Providers
Pinkeye, also called conjunctivitis, can be caused by bacterial or viral infections or by allergic reactions to dust, pollen, and other materials. Bacterial and viral infections usually produce a white or yellowish pus that may cause the eyelids to stick shut in the morning. The discharge in allergic conjunctivitis is often clear and watery. All types involve redness and burning or itching eyes. Pinkeye in child care settings is most often due to bacterial or viral infections. It can usually be treated with antibiotics. Red and sore eyes may be part of viral respiratory infections, including measles. 

The germs that cause conjunctivitis may be present in nasal secretions, as well as in the discharge from the eyes. Persons can become infected when their hands become contaminated with these materials and they rub their eyes. Eyes can also become infected when a person uses contaminated towels or eye makeup. 

If a child in your facility develops pinkeye:

Contact the child's parents and ask them to have the child seen by the doctor. Eye injuries and foreign bodies in the eye can cause similar symptoms.
Monitor the other children for signs of developing pinkeye.ake sure all children and staff use good handwashing practices and hygiene including proper use and disposal of paper tissues used for wiping nasal secretions.
Eliminate any shared articles, such as towels. Use disposable paper towels.
Disinfect any articles that may have been contaminated.
Exclude children with a white or yellow discharge until they have been treated with an antibiotic for at least 24 hours.
Children with a watery discharge generally do not need to be excluded unless there have been other children in the group with similar symptoms, but should be monitored for signs of more serious illness, such as fever or rash.
Article Source - U.S. CDC
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