An inflammation of the conjunctivas (the membranes that cover the eyeballs and line the eyelids) may be caused by chemicals, dust, bacteria, viruses, or allergens such as ragweed pollen. The eyes may be reddened, weepy, itchy, and sensitive to light. One common bacterial form, popularly called pinkeye, produces redness and a discharge. If only one eye is inflamed, suspect a foreign object.
Bathe affected eyes several times a day with warm water on a pad of cotton. Use soothing eye drops. Applying moist, warm compresses may also help. If your eyes don’t improve within 3 days, or are in pain or if your vision is in any way affected, see an ophthalmologist (eye doctor).
Because this infection is contagious, the affected person should use a separate washcloth and towel. Do not rub your eyes and warn children not to rub theirs.