Pinkeye (conjunctivitis) is redness and swelling of the mucous membrane (conjunctiva) that lines the eyelid and eye surface. The most common type (adenovirus) is caused by a virus and occurs most often in adults, occasionally causing a sore throat at the same time that pinkeye symptoms occur.
Sometimes children with virus-caused upper respiratory infections develop pinkeye as a separate, bacterial infection. Viral and bacterial pinkeye are contagious and spread very easily.
Pinkeye is very common. It usually is not serious and goes away in 7 to 10 days without medical treatment. But it may last up to 3 weeks and can become ongoing (chronic).
The symptoms usually start in one eye and may then spread to the other eye. Besides redness and swelling in the eye, symptoms of viral pinkeye include:
Home treatment helps reduce pain, keeps the eye free of drainage, and helps prevent the spread of infection. Home treatment includes:
Last Revised: November 2, 2011
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
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