Conjunctivitis can be either an irritation or an infection of the membrane that covers the white of the eye and the inside lining of the eyelid. It has become commonly known as "red eye" or "pink eye" due to the significant blood vessel inflammation that can occur.
Allergies and other irritants like air pollution, eye make up, and contact lenses cause irritation conjunctivitis. Infection conjunctivitis has two categories - viral and bacterial. The viral type usually accompanies a cold, fever, sore throat, or flu and is characterized by eye redness and a watery discharge. The bacterial type presents with eye redness, a mucous like discharge, and is usually caused by a staph or strep bacteria.
An eye doctor is best trained and equipped to make the correct diagnosis of the type of conjunctivitis. Treatments for most cases of conjunctivitis include prescription eyedrops and eye hygiene methods. In some cases, conjunctivitis can progress to more serious eye condition and vision damage so professional evaluation is important.