Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) – Virus, Bacteria, Allergen & Irritant Exposures

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) – Virus, Bacteria, Allergen & Irritant Exposures

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children in U.S. public schools miss 3 million schools days each year due to pink eye. According to the agency, pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is one of the most common and treatable eye conditions in the world and it can affect both children and adults.

Pink eye is an inflammation of the thin, clear tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid (conjunctiva) and the white part of the eyeball. This inflammation makes blood vessels more visible and gives the eye a pink or reddish color.

The CDC reports that some of the main causes and types of pink eye include:
• Viral Conjunctivitis – which is caused by a number of different viruses, such as adenoviruses, and can be very contagious.
• Bacterial Conjunctivitis – there are several types of bacteria that can cause this (Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis, or, less commonly, Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae) and some of these can be easily spread.
• Allergic Conjunctivitis – This is not contagious and is a result of the body’s reaction to allergens, such as pollen from trees, plants, grasses and weeds; dust mites; molds; pet dander; medicines; or cosmetics.
• Conjunctivitis Caused by Irritants – This is also not contagious and is caused by irritation from a foreign body in the eye or contact with swimming pool chlorine, smoke, dust, fumes or chemical vapors. The airborne irritants could be from indoor or outdoor pollution.

In addition to these, there are also other less common causes of pink eye, such as exposure to ameba, parasites and other substances.

According to the CDC, the contagious forms of pink eye can spread from person to person in different ways, often from an infected person to others through:
• Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
• The air by coughing and sneezing
• Touching an object or surface with germs on it, then touching the eyes before washing one’s hands

These are just a few things to know about pink eye and the more common causes of the condition. To learn more about microbial, air quality and environmental causes or other health and safety exposure issues, please visit the websites shown below.

Clark Seif Clark
EMSL Analytical, Inc.
LA Testing
Zimmetry Environmental
Healthy Indoors Magazine