Pink eye

How to tell if you have pink eye

Understand what causes this common eye condition, get tips on how to ease the symptoms, and prevent future infections.

What is pink eye?

Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis or inflammation of the conjunctiva (membrane that lines the eye), is inflammation that results in engorged blood vessels causing the eye to appear red or pink.


What are signs of pink eye?

  • Redness
  • Irritation
  • Blurry vision
  • Watering of clear liquid or yellow thick mucous material, crusting of the eye, sensitivity to light and having a gritty feeling in the eye


What causes pink eye?

  • Irritation from chemicals
  • Infection from virus, bacteria, fungus, allergies or overuse of contact lens


What is viral conjunctivitis?

  • Viral conjunctivitis is a viral infection that commonly occurs in children
  • It can be associated with upper respiratory track infections such as flu or common cold or sore throats
  • There is usually a watery discharge without much pain. The infection usually starts in one eye and can spread to another
  • There are no specific treatments for viral conjunctivitis except for symptomatic relief from cold compresses and artificial tears
  • As always, hand washing is very important to prevent the infection from spreading to the other eye and others around you


What is bacterial conjunctivitis?

  • Bacterial conjunctivitis is due to bacteria leading to yellowish drainage or pus
  • This thicker drainage can cause more crusting and sticking of the eyelids shut especially after sleep
  • Sometimes the infection could involve the skin around the eye as well. You should have this evaluated by a physician since it can lead to other dangerous complications and extension of infection to even behind the eye
  • Even though bacterial conjunctivitis may resolve by itself in about three days, antibiotic eye drops or ointment may be needed after that


What is chemical conjunctivitis?

  • Chemical conjunctivitis can be due to acid or base (alkali) substances that get in the eye. The amount of injury and irritation depends on concentration, type, length of time and amount of material that entered the eye
  • The first thing you should do is flush the eye with running water
  • These injuries usually require urgent medical attention
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