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Pink eye facts and prevention

Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is one of the most common and treatable eye conditions. It is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, clear tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid and the white part of the eyeball. This inflammation makes blood vessels more visible and gives the eye a pink or reddish color.

Key facts

  • Pink eye is one of the most common and treatable eye conditions.
  • Most cases of pink eye are mild and get better on their own without treatment.
  • Pink eye caused by allergens or irritants is not contagious; however, it’s possible to develop a secondary pink eye infection caused by a virus or bacteria that is contagious.
  • Most hospitals are required by state law to put drops or ointment in a newborn’s eyes to prevent pink eye.

Prevention tips

  • Wash hands really well before and after cleaning, or applying eye drops or ointment to, your infected eye, and after contact with an infected person or items he or she uses. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes. This can worsen the condition or spread it to your other eye.
  • Avoid sharing makeup, contact lenses and containers, and eyeglasses. Do not share personal items, such as pillows, washcloths, towels, eye drops, makeup, contact lenses and containers, and eyeglasses