What is acute conjunctivitis (pink eye)?

Updated: Oct 22, 2018
  • Author: Michael A Silverman, MD, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Answer

Answer

Conjunctivitis is one of the most common nontraumatic eye complaints resulting in presentation to the emergency department (ED): 3% of all ED visits are ocular related, and conjunctivitis is responsible for approximately 30% of all eye complaints. This term describes any inflammatory process that involves the conjunctiva; however, to most patients, conjunctivitis (often called pink eye) is a diagnosis in its own right. As with any mucous membrane, infectious agents may adhere to the conjunctiva, thus overwhelming normal defense mechanisms and producing clinical symptoms of redness, discharge, irritation, and possibly photophobia.


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