Conjunctivitis, also called “pink eye,” occurs when the conjunctiva covering the white part of the eye becomes inflamed or infected. Many cases of conjunctivitis are associated with allergies but can also be caused by viral or bacterial infections. During conjunctivitis, blood vessels within the eye dilate and fill with blood causing redness and inflammation. The eye feels irritated and in some cases there may be a yellowish discharge that can cause the eyelids to stick together. Conjunctivitis can be very contagious. People who have it should not share anything that they touch. Not everyone with redness in the eye has conjunctivitis. Sometimes there are more serious diseases, such as damage to the cornea, angle-closure glaucoma, or inflammation inside the eye that causes the conjunctiva to become inflamed and pink. Conjunctivitis rarely affects one’s vision. If vision is affected, if there is a discharge, any light sensitivity, or if the problem does not resolve within a few days, patients should see an eye doctor immediately.
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