Infection

Several microorganisms can cause conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva). This is a highly infectious disease commonly called pinkeye.

The bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis causes trachoma, inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva that results in scarring. This disease is rare in the United States but is a common cause of blindness in underdeveloped countries, although it is easily cured with sulfa drugs and antibiotics.

Gonorrhea is the usual cause of an acute conjunctivitis in newborns called ophthalmia neonatorum. An antibiotic ointment is routinely used to prevent such eye infections in newborns.

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