Pink Eye

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

Pink Eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is a condition that causes the white part of the eye to turn pink or red. This discoloration is a result of inflammation in the thin, clear membrane called conjunctiva, which lines the inside of the eyelid and the white portion of the eyeball.

There are several causes of Pink Eye, including viruses, bacteria, allergens, irritants, contact lens wear, and fungi. Determining the exact cause can be challenging as some symptoms may be similar regardless of the source.

Viral conjunctivitis, a highly contagious viral infection of the eye, typically starts in one eye and spreads to the other within a few days. Those with viral conjunctivitis may experience symptoms similar to a common cold or flu, such as a sore throat or fever. The discharge is usually watery instead of thick. Rubbing your eyes and transferring germs from your hands can cause viral conjunctivitis, so it's important to frequently wash your hands with soap and water, especially when experiencing cold symptoms.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is sometimes accompanied by an ear infection and tends to be more prevalent in children than in adults. Similar to viral conjunctivitis, it is highly contagious. According to a study, this particular form of pink eye is the primary reason why children miss daycare or school. The discharge, or pus, associated with bacterial conjunctivitis can cause the eyelashes to stick together.

Allergic conjunctivitis is a result of the body's reaction to allergens, such as pollen from trees, dust mites, or makeup. Unlike viral and bacterial conjunctivitis, this type of pink eye is not contagious. However, it often affects both eyes and is characterized by swelling, intense itching, and excessive tearing, rather than discharge.

Irritants that can cause conjunctivitis include foreign bodies like eyelashes, chemicals, fumes, dust, or smoke. Prolonged use or improper cleaning of contact lenses can also lead to this form of pink eye. Although not contagious, it may cause watery eyes and mucus discharge.

Symptoms of pink eye, regardless of the cause, typically include the white part of the eye turning pink or red, swelling of the eyelids or conjunctiva, increased tear production, urge to rub the eyes, feeling of a foreign body in the eyes, itching, irritation or burning sensation, and occasionally, discharge causing eyelashes to stick together and crusting of the eyelids or lashes, especially in the morning.

Contact lenses may feel uncomfortable or not stay in place when worn.

Newborns exhibiting pink eye symptoms should be promptly seen by a pediatrician. Neonatal conjunctivitis in newborns can be caused by infection, irritation, or a blocked tear duct, and requires immediate attention, especially if it is an infection.

Diagnosing pink eye can be challenging as symptoms can vary depending on the underlying cause. Healthcare professionals at Vital Urgent Care centers rely on patient history, symptoms, and examinations to determine the exact cause. In some cases, a sample of discharge from the infected eye(s) may be collected and sent to a lab for further analysis.

In many instances, pink eye resolves on its own. However, it is advisable to seek professional help in the following situations: newborns with pink eye symptoms, individuals with weakened immune systems, those with eye injuries or foreign bodies in the eye, intense redness or pain in the eyes, sensitivity to light or blurred vision that persists even after discharge is cleared, and symptoms that worsen or fail to improve.

Viral conjunctivitis, the mildest form, typically clears up within seven to 14 days without treatment. Severe cases may require antiviral medication prescribed by a healthcare professional. Bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with antibiotics in the form of eye drops or ointments. Mild cases may improve without antibiotics within two to five days.

Allergic conjunctivitis can be managed with specific eye drops (topical antihistamine and vasoconstrictors) or allergy medications. Removing oneself from the environment containing the allergen may also help alleviate symptoms.

At your local Vital Urgent Care center, our professionals can identify suitable treatment options for your type of pink eye, whether it is viral, bacterial, caused by allergens, or irritants.

Access to

Urgent Care

when you need it most

Book an Appointment

To Top