Symptoms, causes, and treatments for
Pink eye, which doctors also call “conjunctivitis,” is a symptom of several illnesses. However, one of the most common causes of pink eye is an infection of the conjunctiva, or the white part of the eye.
Infectious conjunctivitis is caused by several kinds of bacteria or viruses. It's extremely contagious and should be treated with caution to avoid infecting others.
Other, non-infectious causes of pink eye include allergies (like hay fever) or irritants (i.e., smog or chemical exposure). If you suffer from allergies, your eyes may exhibit some of the same symptoms as an eye infection.
General conjunctivitis symptoms, regardless of the underlying cause, include:
Bacterial conjunctivitis is a particularly severe eye infection and should be treated as soon as possible. Symptoms specific to bacterial eye infections include:
Bacterial conjunctivitis can be caused by:
Viral conjunctivitis can be caused by:
Other possible causes of pink eye include environmental triggers that, if left untreated, will progress into an infection. Additional risk factors for eye infections include severe dry eye, excess exposure to wind, chemicals, and smoke.
Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics, which should resolve the condition after a few days. However, it’s best to see a doctor immediately to confirm that the underlying infection isn’t bacterial, which can cause serious complications and long-term damage to your vision if left untreated.
Unfortunately, viral conjunctivitis is a lot like the common cold: there’s no specific treatment or medication to prevent the virus, so it’ll only leave your system after a certain amount of time has passed. Viral infections of the eye last upwards of five days.
Generally, if you’re experiencing any eye pain, changes to your vision, or if you wear contacts and are showing symptoms of an eye infection, see a doctor immediately to rule out more serious infections.
Consider these tips to help prevent an eye infection: