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What causes pink eye?

Conjunctivitis, also known as ‘pink eye’ or ‘red eye’, is a common condition in which the thin layer of tissue covering the front of the eye (the ‘conjunctiva’) becomes red and inflamed.

The main symptoms of conjunctivitis include itchiness or watering of the eyes, and in some cases, a sticky coating or crust along the eyelash line, a burning sensation, or a gritty feeling in the eyes. The symptoms can affect one or both eyes.


Causes of conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis can come about in different ways:

  • Viral or bacterial infection – known as infective conjunctivitis
  • Allergic reaction to a trigger, such as dust, pollen, or pet dander – known as allergic conjunctivitis
  • Irritants coming into contact with the eye, such as shampoo, a foreign object or eyelash rubbing against the conjunctiva, or chlorinated water – known as irritant conjunctivitis

What to do next

It is advised that you come to see one of our doctors if you are experiencing conjunctivitis infections, in order to get a proper diagnosis and treatment for any viral or bacterial causes. We are available six days a week. Give us a call or use our online booking system to make an appointment.


How long is conjunctivitis contagious?

Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is usually contagious for as long as you have symptoms of eye watering and discharge. The condition usually does not last longer than a week.

What is an “eye cold”?

An “eye cold” is one of the names given to conjunctivitis, or pink eye.

I have conjunctivitis. What should I do with my contact lenses?

The doctor will likely advise you to throw out the contact lenses you were wearing right before the infection developed. You will need to avoid wearing your lenses until the infection clears up and you have completed your course of antibiotics.

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