Pink Eye in Adults
Both children and adults can get pink eye. Conjunctivitis is most commonly caused by a viral infection or an allergic reaction, conditions that can affect both adults and young children. Although anybody can get pink eye, adults are less likely than children to become infected because they are better at prevention, which involves practicing good hygiene.
Did you get a letter from school saying pink eye is going around? Does your child have pink eye? For many adults, this causes them to wonder if they can get the disease.
The short answer is yes, but there are things you can do to prevent it -- or at least decrease your chances of getting it.
Pink eye is the layman's term for the medical condition conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the thin piece of tissue that covers the whites of the eyes and the inner eyelids. When the conjunctiva becomes inflamed, it looks pink or red from a distance.
Conjunctivitis can occur in children, including newborns, as well as adults. There are several reasons why. The two most common are because of an infection with a virus (known as viral conjunctivitis) or an allergic reaction (called allergic conjunctivitis).
An infection with bacteria (bacterial conjunctivitis) or something that irritates the eye, such as an eyelash, can also cause the conjunctiva to become inflamed.
Other conditions besides conjunctivitis can cause a red or pink eye in adults. Some of these conditions can potentially be serious.
(Click Pink Eye Causes to learn more about the different types of conjunctivitis and what else can cause a red or pink eye.)