Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) - Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

March 28, 2018
pink eye

Also known as pink eye, conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva (transparent membrane), which covers the white portion of the eyeball. If you believe you or a child may be suffering from conjunctivitis, here's what you should know.
What Causes it?
Conjunctivitis is usually caused by a virus; however, it can also be caused by bacteria, allergies, blocked tear ducts, or a foreign objects in the eye. Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis can develop along with colds, sore throats or respiratory infections. Bacterial conjunctivitis commonly occurs when people wear tainted or unsanitary contact lenses.
When small blood vessels in the conjunctiva inflame, they become more visible. This can cause the eyes to appear pink or light red, which is how pink eye got its name.
What Are the Symptoms?
The most common symptoms of conjunctivitis include:

  • An itchy sensation in one or both eyes
  • Redness in one or both eyes
  • Burning or teary eyes
  • A gritty sensation in one or both eyes
  • Drainage or discharge that crusts over at night, making it difficult to open the eyes in the morning

How Is Conjunctivitis Treated?
Because untreated eye infections can permanently damage a person's vision, it's important to seek treatment if you notice symptoms. Since there are other serious eye conditions that can mimic pink eye, your doctor will evaluate your symptoms to determine the cause. If you have conjunctivitis, he or she will usually focus on treating symptoms. This includes using artificial tears, applying cold or warm compresses, and cleaning your eyelids with a damp cloth.
Since most conjunctivitis is viral, there is usually no need for antibiotic eye drops unless you doctor determines a bacterial cause. If your conjunctivitis is caused by the herpes simplex virus, your doctor may provide anti-viral medications. You will also be instructed to avoid wearing contact lenses until your symptoms subside.
Since viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious, it's important to seek treatment as soon as possible to keep the infection from spreading to others in your home. PhysicianOne Urgent Care can provide timely, affordable treatment for conjunctivitis 7 days a week. Contact us at 1.855.349.2828, or stop by for a walk-in appointment. If you’re looking to save some time, find a location near you and check-in online today!

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