Monday, April 6, 2009

While conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, can sometimes be alarming because it may make the eyes extremely red and can spread rapidly, itís a fairly common condition and usually causes no long-term eye or vision damage. Dr. Edward Hill takes a closer look at pinkeye in todayís 60 Second Housecall.

Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pinkeye, is an infection that causes inflammation of the conjunctiva, the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids.

The eyelids become painful, itchy, red and swollen, and you may feel like something is in the eye.

Pinkeye can be caused from allergies, bacterial or viral infections, or substances that irritate the eyes. Bacterial pinkeye is more common in children, while viral pinkeye is more common in adults. The allergic type is not contagious, but both viral and bacterial pinkeye spread very easily.

If the pinkeye is caused by bacteria, your physician can prescribe antibiotic drops or ointment. If the cause is viral, you or your child should begin to improve and will no longer be contagious within three to five days.

Medications are not usually prescribed to treat viral pinkeye.  It is important to prevent the infection from spreading by washing hands frequently, and not sharing a towel, washcloth or pillow with the infected person.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Iím Dr. Edward Hill.