Pink eye, also referred to as conjunctivitis, is an infection or allergic reaction that occurs when the conjunctiva becomes irritated. If you have pink eye, your eye(s) will get red and swollen, and you may notice a sticky discharge. You can have pink eye in one or both eyes and some types are extremely contagious.

What Causes Pink Eye?

There are three primary types of pink eye:
1. Viral conjunctivitis: This type of pink eye is caused by a virus, like a cold, and is very contagious. It will usually clear up in a few days without medical intervention. 

  1. Bacterial conjunctivitis: This type of pink eye is caused by bacteria. When left untreated, this type of pink eye can result in serious damage to the affected eye. 
  2. Allergic conjunctivitis: This type of pink eye is caused by eye irritants, such as dust.

Pink Eye Symptoms

Viral Conjunctivitis Symptoms

  • Watery and itchy eyes
  • Sensitivity to light

Bacterial Conjunctivitis Symptoms

  • Sticky yellowish discharge from the eyes that sometimes causes the eyelids to stick together
  • One or both eyes can be affected

Allergic Conjunctivitis Symptoms

  • Watery and itchy eyes
  • Stuffiness or runny nose

Pink Eye Treatments

The treatment of pink eye will depend on the type of conjunctivitis you have.

Viral Conjunctivitis Treatment

You can expect viral conjunctivitis to clear up on its own after a few days, without medical treatment. You can apply a cool wet cloth to your eyes to relieve any discomfort you may feel.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis

If you have bacterial conjunctivitis, your optometrist will prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointments.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

You can use over the counter allergy medications to help relieve any symptoms you may be experiencing.

Pink Eye Prevention Tips

Here are some precautions that you can take to prevent pink eye:

  • Don’t share personal items like tissues and hand towels.
  • If you cough or sneeze, make sure you cover your nose and mouth with your elbow and avoid rubbing or touching your eyes after.
  • Wash your hands regularly, especially when out in public spaces.
  • Always have some hand sanitizer on you and use it frequently.
  • Regularly clean the surfaces in your home (i.e. countertops, bathroom surfaces, faucet handles, etc.).
  • If you have seasonal allergies, you can ask your doctor to give you some tips on how to minimize your symptoms.
  • If you wear contacts, make sure you follow the care instructions included.
  • If you enjoy swimming, always wear swimming goggles to protect your eyes from bacteria in the water that can cause pink eye.
  • When showering, you should always remove your contact lenses to eliminate the risk of trapping bacteria between your eyes and the contact lenses.

For all of your optimal needs, come into Dr. Damanjit Johal Optometry.