30. January 2012 05:19
Does everyone with a red eye have "pinkeye". On a daily basis, I have patients who present with a red eye who automatically feel they have pinkeye. Pinkeye is also known as viral conjunctivitis. However, there are many causes of a red eye including bacterial, allergic, chemical or traumatic conjunctivitis just to name a few. Contact lenses are also a common source for eye redness or infection.
Pinkeye often involves both eyes. Patients complain of redness, tearing and discharge. They often look very uncomfortable. Many of these people have a cold or sore throat preceding the eye problem. In addition, it often can be transmitted from children. Most patients are contagious for a week or so from the time the first eye becomes red. Hand washing is very important when you have this problem.
Allergic conjunctivitis may have a similar presentation. However, most of these patients complain of itching. This often is the symptom that helps distinguish this condition from viral conjunctivitis (pinkeye). Bacterial conjunctivitis usually effects one eye. Contact lens wearers who present with infection often have redness and pain in one eye. The history helps the physician determine the source of the red eye.
In summary, not all red eyes are pinkeye. If you have symptoms which seem to be an infection or conjunctivitis, please contact your eye care professional. Remember, protect those eyes!
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