Pink Eye (conjunctivitis)

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Pink eye, or conjunctivitis is very common. The conjunctiva is the membrane forming the moist lining of the eyelids. It is more exposed to the exterior environment than any other part of the body and therefore open to more microorganisms than any other membrane in the body. There is also a thin layer of conjunctiva covering the surface of the cornea. If it becomes infected, conjunctivitis is the result.

Self Help & Tips

Pink Eye
Pink eye infection generally starts in one eye and easily spreads to the other eye. Red, irritated eyes result that go away in three days to a week. If the symptoms last longer than that you should see your eye doctor. This is important because if the infection enters the cornea (the transparent surface of the eyeball) little cloudy areas can develop that may harm your vision.


Some symptoms of conjunctivitis include:

  • red, irritated eyes
  • morning "glued" eyelids, from night discharges
  • sensitivity to light
  • feeling of itchiness
  • feeling of griminess



Some cases are caused by bacteria, such as pneumococcus, staphylococcus or streptococcus, although allergies and some viruses can also cause conjunctivitis.


Pink eye can also be caused by the adenovirus, which spreads by many means including swimming pools and wet towels.

Vernal Keratoconjunctivitis

This condition which occurs only seasonally and is thought to be an allergic disorder. Patients experiencing conjunctivitis only during allergy seasons often have other family members with allergy related conditions such as asthma or hay fever. It is more common in boys than girls, and more common under 20 years old. It occurs most often in the summer in hot climates.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

Some people are susceptible to allergic conjunctivitis brought on by use of drugs: (see info on drugs that harm the eyes for a more complete list of harmful drugs)

  • Antibiotics - topical eye antibiotics are sometimes have the side effect of causing an allergic reaction of pink or red eye. Oral antibiotics or those given intravenously for bacterial infections can also cause symptoms in some people. For example:
    1. Synthetic penicillins (amoxicillin and ampicillin)- one may experience some mild pink eye or red eye, itching and dryness. In rare cases they may cause blood vessel hemorrhages in the conjunctiva and in the retina
    2. Tetracycline - in addition to pinkness or redness, one might experience light sensitivity and blurred vision
    3. Sulfonamides - many people are allergic to "sulfa drugs". This can cause blurred vision, light sensitivity and hemorrhages in the eye.
    4. Note: Whenever taking antibiotics make sure you take probiotics such as acidophilus or bifidus and vitamin C to help ward off some of the side effects of the antibiotics.

Conventional Treatment

Sulfa-based eyedrops are often provided after other conditions have been ruled out. They usually work within three days. Otherwise broad-spectrum antibiotics are prescribed. If the cause is a virus, then not much can be done.

Self Help

Diet & Nutrition

Certain nutrient-providing herbs such as Burdock, Forsythia, Goldenseal and Echinacea may help reduce the symptoms of conjunctivitis.

  • See vitamins & supplements that support eyelid health
  • Eat yogurt. The acidophilus in yogurt combats the bacterial infection. For that reason, we also suggest acidophilus supplements. Eat 1/2 cup of yogurt with the live cultures three times a day or take an acidophilus supplement (with about six billion live or probiotic organisms) three times a day.
  • Yogurt can also be used in a soothing compress to the eyes. You don't need to put the yogurt directly in your eyes, but instead, use it in a compress.
  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A is especially important in promoting health in all skin and membrane tissues, including the conjunctiva of the eyelids.
  • Vitamin B Complex: Conjunctivis can be triggered by a vitamin B2 deficiency, but supplementing with the entire B complex can increase the availability of vitamin B2 without inducing deficiencies of the other B vitamins.
  • Diet & lifestyle protocol - see our recommendations for preventing eye disease for detailed information about that which can help or harm your vision and health.

Conjunctivitis News

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See Vitamins & supplements to support the eyelid.

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