About Conjunctivitis or “Pink Eye”

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

About Conjunctivitis or “Pink Eye”

“Conjunctivitis is the term we use to describe inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the very thin membrane that covers the inside of your eyelids and the white part of your eye-the sclera,” commented Maine Ophthalmologist Jordan Sterrer, M.D. at Eyecare Medical Group in Portland. “It is most commonly referred to as “red” or “pink” eye and can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection, allergies or environmental irritants.”


Symptoms of conjunctivitis may include:

Ø  Inflammation and Redness of the Eye
Ø  Increased Tearing
Ø  Soreness of the Eye
Ø  Foreign Body Sensation
Ø  Itchiness of the Eye
Ø  Excess Mucous or Pus
Ø  Crusting of the Eyelashes in the Morning


Viral conjunctivitis is much more common than the bacterial kind. It may last several weeks and is frequently accompanied by a respiratory infection, a cold or sore throat. Antibiotic drops or ointments usually do not help, but symptomatic treatment such as cold compresses or over-the-counter decongestant eye drops can be used while the infection runs its course.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is less common and characterized by considerable amounts of pus. Some bacterial infections are more chronic, however, and may produce little or no discharge except for some mild crusting of the eyelashes in the morning. Bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with a variety of antibiotic eye drops or ointments. These treatments usually cure the infection in a day or two.

Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by allergies and often occurs in spring and fall. Itchy eyes are common with this variety, but can be treated with eye drops. It is important, however, to not use medications that contain steroids unless they are specifically prescribed your eye doctor. Names of steroids usually end in “-one” or “-dex.”

Conjunctivitis caused by a virus can be very contagious. If you have been diagnosed with viral conjunctivitis or suspect you might be suffering from this condition, practicing good hygiene can help prevent the spread of conjunctivitis if you are infected. You should:

Ø  Avoid re-using handkerchiefs and towels to wipe your face and eyes
Ø  Not share towels, pillowcases or makeup
Ø  Wash your hands frequently
Ø  Keep your hands away from your eyes
Ø  Replace your eye cosmetics regularly
Ø  Properly clean your contact lenses
Ø  Stay out of swimming pools and consider staying home from school or work


“Regardless of the cause, conjunctivitis generally should not cause a disruption in vision. More serious conditions, such as damage to the cornea, very severe glaucoma or inflammation inside the eye can also cause the conjunctiva to become inflamed and pink”, said Dr. Sterrer. If your case of “pink eye” affects your vision or you experience eye pain, you should see your eye doctor immediately.

If you have questions about Conjunctivitis or "Pink Eye" or need to schedule an appointment please feel free to call Eyecare Medical Group at 888-374-2020, visit www.eyecaremed.com or facebook.com/eyecaremedicalgroup.

Eyecare Medical Group is a leading ophthalmology practice in Portland, Maine staffed by a team of eye care specialists including eye doctors who are fellowship trained glaucoma specialists, retina specialists, cornea specialists and cataract and lens implant specialists-all board certified Ophthalmologists-as well as Optometrists, Opticians, technical and administrative staff who provide eye examinations for adults and children, cataract surgery and intraocular lens implants, (IOL), laser vision correction such as LASIK, diagnosis and treatment of cornea disease including cornea transplants, care for diseases of the retina including diabetes and age related macular degeneration and diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma.

Eyecare Medical Group is conveniently located for patients from throughout Maine including
Auburn, Augusta, Bangor, Bath, Berwick, Biddeford, Bridgeton, Brunswick, Cape Neddick, Casco Bay, Cumberland Center, Eliot, Freeport, Gardiner, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Kittery, Lewiston, Old Orchard Beach, Sanford, Scarborough, South Portland, Springvale, Topsham, Waterville, Westbrook, Winslow, Wiscasset, Yarmouth, Portland, Skowhegan and York Maine.