Information for Patients
Bacteria are living things that have only one cell. Under a microscope, they look like balls, rods, or spirals. They are so small that a line of 1,000 could fit across a pencil eraser. Most bacteria won't hurt you - less than 1 percent of the different types make people sick. Many are helpful. Some bacteria help to digest food, destroy disease-causing cells, and give the body needed vitamins. Bacteria are also used in making healthy foods like yogurt and cheese.
But infectious bacteria can make you ill. They reproduce quickly in your body. Many give off chemicals called toxins, which can damage tissue and make you sick. Examples of bacteria that cause infections include Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and E. coli.
Antibiotics are the usual treatment. When you take antibiotics, follow the directions carefully. Each time you take antibiotics, you increase the chances that bacteria in your body will learn to resist them causing antibiotic resistance. Later, you could get or spread an infection that those antibiotics cannot cure.
Conjunctivitis is the medical name for pink eye. It involves inflammation of the outer layer of the eye and inside of the eyelid. It can cause swelling, itching, burning, discharge, and redness. Causes include
- Bacterial or viral infection
- Substances that cause irritation
- Contact lens products, eye drops, or eye ointments
Pinkeye usually does not affect vision. Infectious pink eye can easily spread from one person to another. The infection will clear in most cases without medical care, but bacterial pinkeye needs treatment with antibiotic eye drops or ointment.
NIH: National Eye Institute