Conjunctivitis (also called pink eye in North America or madras eye in India) is inflammation of the conjunctiva (the outermost layer of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids). It is commonly due to an infection (usually viral, but sometimes bacterial) or an allergic reaction.
The symptoms of pinkeye differ based on the cause of the inflammation, but may include:
Redness in the white of the eye or inner eyelid.
Increased amount of tears.
Thick yellow discharge that crusts over the eyelashes, especially after sleep.
Green or white discharge from the eye.
Increased sensitivity to light.
Pinkeye has a number of different causes, including:
Bacteria (such as gonorrhea or chlamydia).
Irritants such as shampoos, dirt, smoke, and pool chlorine.
Allergies, like dust, pollen, or a special type of allergy that affects some contact lens wearers.
Pinkeye caused by some bacteria and viruses can spread easily from person to person, but is not a serious health risk if diagnosed promptly. Pinkeye in newborn babies, however, should be reported to a doctor immediately, as it could be a vision-threatening infection.