Symptoms of pink eye
Conjunctivitis literally means "inflammation of the conjunctiva". The conjunctiva is a thin membrane containing tiny blood vessels and produces mucus to coat and lubricate the surface of your eye. When the conjunctiva becomes irritated or inflamed, the blood vessels become larger and more prominent, making your eye appear red.
It can be hard to tell whether the infection is caused by a virus or bacteria. In general, the discharge associated with viral conjunctivitis is watery, whereas thicker and more pus-like discharge is a sign of bacterial infection. When you wake up in the morning, your eyelids may be stuck together (don't be alarmed, though - cleaning your eyes with a warm washcloth will loosen the dried crusts). Itchiness and tearing are common with allergic conjunctivitis.
Conjunctivitis may occur in one or both eyes. Conjunctivitis can cause swelling, itching, burning, discharge and redness of the protective membrane that lines the eyelids and covers exposed areas of the white of the eye. People experiencing conjunctivitis may exhibit the following signs and symptoms of pink eye:
When to seek medical help
Pink eye is very common, and can be very contagious. Because it can be hard to tell which kind of conjunctivitis a person has, it's wise to visit a doctor if your eyes are red and irritated. If symptoms persist for an extended period of time after treatment, you should tell your doctor. Several eye diseases cause red eyes, some of which can lead to blindness unless diagnosed and treated.
If you think that you are experiencing a case of conjunctivitis, see your doctor immediately for a diagnosis. Diagnosis is fairly straightforward, If there's no improvement, you may have a more serious form of viral or bacterial conjunctivitis. Learn more about the first step in how to get rid of pink eye in the How to Diagnose Pink Eye section next.
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