By Dr. P. A. Spear TORONTO EYE CLINIC
Your parents called it “pink-eye”, the doctor called it conjunctivitis and it usually meant you stayed home until the infection cleared.
Pink-eye is an inflammation of the conjunctive (hence, “conjunctivitis”) that’s usually caused by a virus, bacteria or allergy. The conjunctive is a mucous membrane covering the white surface of the eye (sclera) and lines the inside of the eyelids (see illustration).
No doubt given the name by observation, “pink-eye” inflammations turn the conjunctive reddish pink, producing symptoms such as scratchiness, grittiness, occasionally pain and usually a discharge – tearing or puss – that leaves eyelids “crusty” and stuck together in the morning.
Bacterial pink-eye, which usually produces a mucous discharge, can occur at any age, but is most common among children who regularly forget to wash their hands.