Dear Doctors: Our 7-year-old came home from school with an itchy eye. A few days later, all three of our kids, plus my husband and I, had pink eye. Our family doctor gave us antibiotic eyedrops, and it was gone in a few days. What causes pink eye? What can you do to keep it from spreading?

Dear Reader: Pink eye is the common name for an infection known as conjunctivitis. It’s the most frequent cause of eye inflammation and occurs in an area of the eye known as the conjunctiva. That’s a thin, clear membrane that covers the white of the eye and lines the inner eyelid. The conjunctiva protects the eye from potential irritants and pathogens. It is nourished by a dense network of minute blood vessels, and it is the site of numerous lymphatic vessels, which are involved in immune response. The conjunctiva also plays a role in producing tears and mucus, which keep the exposed surfaces of the eye moist and lubricated.

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