Watch out for Pink Eye

The name pink eye is really a slang term for Conjunctivitis.  This is where the eye becomes red, pink, inflamed and sometime mildly painful.

When you see your kids or your neighbor kids walking through the door with this, you know that sooner or later you will probably get it as well.

The inflammation occurs in an area of the eye known as the conjunctiva. The eye is rather complicated with several layers of tissues, lenses, nerves, blood vessels, and more.

The conjunctiva is the outermost layer of the eye. It can also include the inner surface of the eyelid.

Let’s look at some of the causes of Pink Eye

1.)     Viral Conjunctivitis

2.)     Allergic Conjunctivitis

3.)     Bacterial Conjunctivitis

4.)     Chemical Conjunctivitis

5.)     Neonatal Conjunctivitis

The most common cause is viral.  The second and third most common are allergic then bacterial.

Conjunctivitis means that the eye alone is mostly affected

Blepharoconjunctivitis is when the eye and the eyelids are involved

Keratoconjunctivitis is when the eye and a corneal inflammation occurs.


Symptoms of Pink Eye

–           Red or Pink changes to the white part of the eye

–           Tearing or watering of the eye

–           Discharge over eye after waking when sleeping

–           Itching of eye

–           Some cases, vision changes

Viral infection

This is often a virus that is easily passed from person to person. It can be very contagious.  The severity of the pinkness is less. Watering of the eye is seen though it is usually clear.  In some cases, an associated cold, flu or similar symptoms may precede or follow the infection.


Is similar to viral conjunctivitis. The severity of the redness can depend on the seriousness of the allergic reaction. Can be worse in times of high pollen count or when around animals – if allergic to the animals. Severe itching causes the redness and irritation. Clear discharge is often seen. Crusting can be seen around eyes after sleeping in some cases.


This if often a bacteria that causes large amounts of discharge.  Discharge can be cloudy, white, yellow, or other. Lids often stick together after sleeping.  Crusting around the eye can be seen as well.  Gritty or scratchy feeling is explained by many patients.


The irritation from an external chemical or object can cause serious injury and redness. If the chemical is alkalis – the burn to the eye can be more severe than acidic burns. But not in all cases.   Serious irrigation of the eye is essential

Diagnosis of Pink Eye

Culture of eye fluid, tears, or discharge is done rarely.  Often done if other treatment options are unsuccessful.

For Allergic, Chemical, or other infections – diagnosis is often associated with the history of a chemical or foreign object history.

The real diagnosis is between viral and bacterial.

Since most Pink Eye is from a virus – time is usually the tell all. But the severity of redness can also be important.


65% of cases resolved in two to five days. Most of the time, prescriptions are not needed or helpful in these cases.

Cool water can help allergic and chemical irritations.  Artificial tears are helpful.

Antibiotics may be used as eye drops, ointments, or along with oral medications.


Overall, Pink Eye is a very contagious problem that can spread quickly around a school, a work, or even a family. Treatment is often done after five days of symptoms. This is outside of hand washing, artificial tears and others.

If symptoms do continue, additional treatment options are available. Pink Eye is so common, that it is possible for you or your children to get it a few times each year.

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