The different types of pink eye and their treatment

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pink eye is one of the most common reasons for missed school and work days, with an estimated 6 million cases occurring in the United States each year.

What many people don’t realize is that there are different causes for having red eyes or pink eye. 

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Viral pink eye

Viral pink eye is caused by a virus, such as the common cold or flu, and is highly contagious. It typically starts in one eye and spreads to the other. Symptoms include watery and itchy eyes, light sensitivity, and a clear or slightly yellow discharge. 

Treatment: Treatment includes self-care measures such as applying a warm or cold compress, using artificial tears, and avoiding touching or rubbing the eyes. Antiviral medications may also be prescribed.

Bacterial pink eye

Bacterial pink eye is caused by a bacterial infection and is also contagious. It is often accompanied by a thicker, yellow, or green discharge, which may crust over the eyelashes.

Treatment: Treatment involves the use of antibiotic eye drops or ointment to kill the bacteria and prevent the further spread of the infection.

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Allergic pink eye

Allergic pink eye is caused by an allergic reaction to substances such as pollen, dust, or makeup. It is not contagious and is characterized by itchy, watery eyes and swelling. 

Treatment: Treatment includes the use of over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines, decongestants, and/or mast cell stabilizers to reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms.

Irritant pink eye

This type of pink eye is caused by exposure to irritants such as smoke, chlorine, or other chemicals.

Treatment: It can be treated by avoiding the irritant and using lubricating eye drops.

If you suspect that you have pink eye, it is important to see our eye doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. Our optometrists can determine the cause of your pink eye and provide the appropriate treatment to help you recover quickly and prevent complications.

What is pink eye?

What is pink eye?

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is a common eye condition characterized by inflammation of the conjunctiva (a thin, transparent membrane lining the inside of the eyelid and covering the white part of the eye). This inflammation can cause redness, swelling, and discharge in the whites of the eyes, as well as itching, burning, and a feeling of grit in the eyes.

When should I see an eye doctor near me for pink eye?

When should I see an eye doctor near me for pink eye?

If you experience any of the following symptoms, we recommend you to see our eye doctor as soon as possible. While pink eye rarely leads to complications, early treatment can help reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others, reduce the risk of any complications, and can also help alleviate symptoms more quickly.

  • Redness in one or both eyes (red eyes)
  • Swelling of the eyes or eyelids
  • Discharge from the eye(s) that is yellow or green in color
  • Itching or burning sensation in the eye(s)
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye pain
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