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Seeing Red: The Facts About Pink Eye

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pink eyeMost parents are no strangers to the signs of pink eye. Those red, icky eyes crusted shut in the morning are a sure ticket for a day off of school. But what do you really know about the condition?

What exactly is pink eye? 

Pink eye is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the normally clear mucus membrane lining the sclera (white part of the eye) and the eyelids. Adults can get it, but pink eye is more common in children. It’s clear to see where the condition gets its nickname, but medical professionals prefer a less ambiguous term.

“Most doctors object to use of the term pink eye, because there are so many things that can cause redness in the eye,” says William R. Marcolini, OD, and president of the New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians, who refers to the highly contagious condition by its medical name, conjunctivitis.

What causes pink eye? 

A virus, bacteria, allergen, or irritant can all cause conjunctivitis. Many of the viruses associated with colds, upper respiratory infections, or sore throats are the same ones that lead to conjunctivitis. And allergens can trigger an episode of non-contagious pink eye. 

Viral or bacterial conjunctivitis is easily spread from one eye to the other and even from person to person. Very dry air, sun exposure, irritants, allergies, and trauma can lead to eye redness, but it can’t be spread.

Pink eye is more common in children than adults and is prevalent in early spring and late fall.   

Read on about how you should treat pink eye—>

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