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What is conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis (or red eye, pink eye) is an inflammation of the mucous membranes of the eye, covering the upper and lower parts of the eyelids and eyeball. When small blood vessels in the conjunctiva become inflamed, they're more visible. This is what causes the whites of your eyes to appear reddish or pink.

The causes of conjunctivitis are:

  • virus
  • bacteria
  • allergen
  • foreign object in the eye
  • irritants on the eye (vapors, chemicals, cosmetics)
  • less frequently, narrow or blocked tear duct

The most common cause of pink eye is virus, and so most of the conjunctivitis do not require treatment with antibiotics.

Although eye inflammation can cause unpleasant symptoms, it usually does not cause significant visual disturbance or blindness. As conjunctivitis can be contagious, early diagnosis and treatment can limit the spread of the infection.


  • redness in one or both eyes
  • itching in one or both eyes
  • foreign object feeling in one or both eyes
  • purulent discharge from the eyes
  • tearing

NB! If you use contact lenses, we recommend you to stop using them as soon as you notice the first signs of inflammation. Wearing contact lenses that have not been properly cleaned or are not yours can cause bacterial conjunctivitis.

Personal hygiene plays an important role in the prevention of conjunctivitis - wash your hands, do not use other people's personal hygiene, make-up or medical supplies (napkins, pipettes, make-up accessories etc.), change the pillowcase regularly (and especially if you suffer from conjunctivitis), do not touch without reason eyes.

Treatment of conjunctivitis:

  • in case of viral pink eye - rinse the eyes with 0,9% saline solution if necessary
  • for bacterial pink eye - use antibacterial eye drops or ointment (Tobrex, Maxitrol, Oftan Akvakol, Fucithalmic - all with prescription)
  • for allergic pink eye - use anti-allergy eye drops (Allergodil, Lecrolyn, Opatanol), nasal spray (Allergodil, Flixonase, Dymista) or tablets (Loratin, Zyrtec, Aerius, Tavegyl, Opexa, etc.)
  • for pink eye caused by an irritant - elimination of the effect of irritating substance, rinsing of the eye with 0,9% saline solution or water, if necessary using eye drops or, in more serious cases, oftalmologist consultation
  • in case of blocked tear duct - tear duct massage, if necessary oftalmologist consultation
  • for a mild inflammation - use a cool compress on the eyes or eye lubricant drops

Contact a family nurse or family doctor if you have:

  • intensive purulent discharge from the eyes
  • headache associated with eye inflammation
  • fever associated with eye inflammation
  • changes in your vision, like wavy lines or flashing (in this case may be needed oftalmologist consultation in the Emergency department)

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