What you need to know about Pink Eye

Pink eye is an inflammation or infection of the thin, clear covering of the white of your eyeball (the conjunctiva) and the inside of your eyelids. When the small blood vessels in the conjunctiva become inflamed they are more visible making the whites of your eye to appear pink. Also called conjunctivitis, it can affect one or both eyes.

Common symptoms of pink eye include:
Redness in the white of the eyeball(s) and or inner eye lid(s)
Increased tearing or discharge
Slightly blurred vision from discharge
Crusting of the eyelashes from the discharge that may prevent eyes from opening after sleep
Mild eyelid swelling
Itching or burning sensation
Increased sensitivity to light
Irritation or gritty feeling in your eye(s)

Four general types of pink eye:

Allergic Conjunctivitis

This form is caused by eye irritants such as pollen, dust, animal dander and other environmental factors. It is not contagious. Treatment often includes applying a cool compress to your eyes and using allergy eye drops and artificial tears. In severe cases non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed.


Bacterial Conjunctivitis

This type is most often caused by staphylococcal or streptococcal bacteria, is highly contagious and can cause serious damage to the eye if left untreated. This is treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointments to speed up the healing process that can take one to two weeks. While you may see improvement after three to four days, the entire course of treatment needs to be used to prevent a recurrence.

Chemical Conjunctivitis

This can be caused by irritants like air pollutions, chorine in swimming pools or exposure to noxious chemicals. To treat this type of pink eye requires a doctor to carefully flush your eyes with saline and may require topical steroids. Acute chemical injuries are very serious and need prompt medical attention to avoid corneal scarring, intraocular damage, vision loss or the loss of an eye.

Viral Conjunctivitis

This is the same type of virus associated with the common cold. Antibiotics will not work on a viral infection. Like a cold, the infection just needs to run its course which could take anywhere from a few days up to 2-3 weeks. It is also contagious like a cold, so follow the same instructions as listed above to not spread the infection.