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Pink Eye Causes

Allergic Causes of Pink Eye

The allergens that cause both seasonal (i.e., hay fever) and year-round allergy symptoms can also cause pink eye (known as allergic conjunctivitis). In fact, it is estimated that up to 20 percent of people each year suffer from allergic conjunctivitis. About half of these people also suffer from other types of allergic disease, including allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, and asthma.
People with allergic conjunctivitis typically experience:
  • Itching
  • Tearing
  • A watery discharge
  • Swelling of the conjunctiva and/or eyelids
  • A red eye
  • Burning.
Symptoms usually affect both eyes, although one eye can be affected more than the other.

Bacterial Causes

Pink eye can also be caused by an infection with bacteria. The most common causes of bacterial conjunctivitis are Staphylococcus aureus (staph infection), Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Moraxella catarrhalis. S. aureus infection is common in adults; the others are more common in children.
A mucous discharge and red eye are common symptoms. Like viral conjunctivitis, this type of infection is highly contagious. A person can transmit the bacteria from the time symptoms first appear to 24 hours after antibiotics have been started.
The bacteria that cause gonorrhea (Neisseria gonorrhoeae) and chlamydia (Chlamydia trachomatis) can also cause bacterial conjunctivitis. They are usually spread from the genitalia of an infected person to the hands and then to the eyes. These infections are more common in teenagers and young adults.
Both gonococcal and chlamydia conjunctivitis may also occur in newborns. They develop the infection as they pass through the birth canal of an infected mother. Infants born vaginally to infected mothers with genital disease (either gonorrhea or chlamydia) are at risk for acquiring this type of newborn conjunctivitis.
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Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis) Information

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