Pinkeye: Different Types of Conjunctivitis and Their Causes

Woman covering her irritated eyesA thin and transparent tissue covers the white part of the eye. This layer of tissue, which lines the inner surface of the eyelid, is called the conjunctiva. When the conjunctiva swells or is inflamed, the condition is called conjunctivitis. The condition is also commonly referred to as pinkeye. It may affect only one or both eyes.

Conjunctivitis or pinkeye is a common disease, especially among children. Depending on the cause of the conjunctivitis, the treatment typically involves lessening or reducing the inflammation or infection, increasing patient comfort, and preventing the spread if the cause is contagious. You may even volunteer for a conjunctivitis clinical trial by, during which alternative treatments may be administered for no cost. Some trials even pay volunteers a fee.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

One of the causes of conjunctivitis is an allergic reaction to a trigger. This is often a seasonal disease for those who have the allergy. Sometimes, an allergy may begin from wearing contact lenses that are too hard, or that may be overdue for replacement.

Chemical Conjunctivitis

Irritating chemicals may also lead to a case of pinkeye. People who are exposed to air pollution may develop the disease, so may those who are exposed to the chlorine in swimming pools. Other chemicals may also cause conjunctivitis.

Infections Conjunctivitis

Allergic and chemical conjunctivitis are not usually contagious. The third type, however — infectious conjunctivitis — often is. Staphylococcal or streptococcal bacteria, which may reside on your skin or in your respiratory system, may cause conjunctivitis. These bacteria may also be passed on from other people, such as if you share makeup.

Viral conjunctivitis is also possible when someone with an upper respiratory tract infection sneezes or coughs, and you are exposed to the droplets.

The most severe form of the disease, however, is ophthalmia neonatorum, which happens among newborns exposed to gonorrhea or chlamydia as they pass the birth canal. This is a serious disease, as it can cause permanent damage to the newborn’s eyes.

In most cases, pinkeye is not a serious condition and may go away on its own. It is, however, advisable to call your doctor if you suffer the symptoms of conjunctivitis, especially if you suspect that you are contagious.