Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the thin, transparent layer covering the front of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelid. The eye will appear red, irritated and sometimes swollen.
There are three types of conjunctivitis:
1. The most common is the INFECTIOUS form, which is commonly referred to as "pink eye". This form is caused by contagious bacteria or viruses and causes the eyes to become red, swollen, inflamed, blurry and itchy. Chlamydial (inclusion) and gonococcal conjunctivitis typically affects sexually active teens and young adults, and can infect an unborn baby. Antibiotics are usually prescribed.
2. The second form, ALLERGIC conjunctivitis, can be brought on by common irritants such as pets or pollen, and other allergens. Seasonal allergies typically produce a thin, watery discharge and do not involve the cornea. If there is a thick, ropy discharge with severe itching and corneal involvement, it is most likely Vernal Keratoconjunctivitis and not a seasonal allergy. VKC is more common in the warmer climates and strikes men mostly between the ages of three and 25 years.
3. CHEMICAL conjunctivitis can be triggered by chlorine and air pollution.
Chemical and allergic conjunctivitis usually is best treated by avoiding or removing the cause of the irritation and allowing the eye to heal naturally. Over-the-counter artifical tears often help to relieve the discomfort while it heals, along with cool compresses. Sometimes topical antihistamines or decongestants are prescribed to reduce swelling and aid in the healing process.
viral conjunctivitis bacterial conjunctivitis chlamydial gonococcal vernal keratoconjunctivitis