Health Guide


What is it?

Conjunctivitis (kun-junk-tuh-vi-tis) is an eye infection. It is also called pink eye. It is an infection of the inner eyelid and the skin over the white part of the eye. Pink eye spreads easily from person to person. With care your eye(s) should be better in 7 days.


Pink eye is usually caused by a virus, an allergy, or sometimes bacteria (back-teer-e-uh). You can get pink eye when you have a cold. Air pollution, smoke, and dust can cause pink eye. Allergies to make-up or pollen can sometimes cause pink eye.

Signs and Symptoms:

Your eyes may hurt, be red, and feel gritty as though you have sand in your eye. Your eyelids may be puffy. You may have clear, yellow, or green-colored fluid coming from your eye. This fluid may form crusts and cause the eyelids to stick together, especially in the morning.

Medical Care:

Your caregiver may give you eye drops, nasal sprays, and other medicine to treat the conjunctivitis.

  • Pollen or makeup may cause conjunctivitis. You may need allergy tests if your conjunctivitis does not improve with medicine.
  • Stay away from anything that you think might cause conjunctivitis, like smoke, dust, chemicals, or air pollution. Or wear goggles if you must work or be around things that cause conjunctivitis.
  • If conjunctivitis is caused by dry eyes, artificial tears and blocking the tear ducts (to prevent tears from draining away as quickly) can be helpful.
  • If bacteria is causing the eye infection, you may need antibiotic (an-ti-bi-ah-tik) medicine. Use the medicine until it is gone even if you feel better.
  • Wash your eyes and hands often. Do not touch your eyes to prevent spreading the infection.

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.

Buy the following herbs and supplements in a form that is only used for the eyes . Do not make your own solution at home, as this could make your infection worse.



      Other ways of treating your symptoms : Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

      Talk to your caregiver if:

      • You would like medicine to treat conjunctivitis.
      • Your symptoms have not gone away or improved by these self-help measures.
      • The pain in the eye increases.
      • The redness is spreading.
      • You have questions about what you have read in this document.


      • You cannot see clearly.

      Care Agreement:

      You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


      1. Berkow R & Beers MH (eds): The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, 17th ed. Merck Research Labs, Rathway, NJ; 1999.

      2. National Institutes of Health/National Eye Institute. (last updated-1999 April). Fact sheet: the cornea and corneal disease. [Online]. Available: [2000 February 14].

      3. Nettina SM: The Lippincott Manual of Nursing Practice, 6th ed. JB Lippincott Co, Philadelphia, PA; 1996.

      4. Ruppert SD: Differential diagnosis of pediatric conjunctivitis (red eye). Nurse Practitioner: American Journal of Primary Health Care 1996; 21(7): 12,15-16,18.

      Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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