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Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, transparent layer that lines the inner eyelid and covers the white part of the eye.

The three main types of conjunctivitis are infectious, allergic and chemical. The infectious type, commonly called "pink eye," is caused by a contagious virus or bacteria. Your body's allergies to pollen, cosmetics, animals or fabrics often bring on allergic conjunctivitis. And, irritants like air pollution, noxious fumes and chlorine in swimming pools may produce the chemical form.

Common symptoms of conjunctivitis are red watery eyes, inflamed inner eyelids, blurred vision, a scratchy feeling in the eyes and, sometimes, a puslike or watery discharge. Conjunctivitis can sometimes develop into something that can harm vision so you should see your optometrist promptly for diagnosis and treatment.

A good way to treat allergic or chemical conjunctivitis is to avoid the cause. If that does not work, prescription eye drops may relieve the discomfort. Infectious conjunctivitis, caused by bacteria, can be treated with antibiotic eye drops. Other forms, caused by viruses, cannot be treated with antibiotics. They must be fought off by your body's immune system.

To control the spread of infectious conjunctivitis, you should keep your hands away from your eyes, thoroughly wash your hands before applying eye medications and do not share towels, washcloths, cosmetics or eye drops with others.

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Keeping Your Eyes Healthy: Get regular comprehensive dilated eye exams

Getting a dilated eye exam is the only way to catch eye diseases early, because with many, there are no warning signs. 

You might think your vision is in good shape or that your eyes are healthy, but visiting Dr. Mason for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to be completely certain. When it comes to common vision problems, many people don’t realize their vision could be improved with glasses or contact lenses. In addition, many common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, and age-related macular degeneration often have no symptoms. A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases in their early stages. Talk to your eye care professional about how often you should have one.

During a comprehensive dilated eye exam, drops are placed in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupil. Dr. Mason uses a special magnifying lens to examine your retina and look for signs of damage and other eye problems. After the examination, your close-up vision may remain blurred for several hours.

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