Is my pink eye conjunctivitis?

by | Ask The Intern

What you need to know about your Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis (pink eye) is inflammation of your conjunctiva or pink part of your eye. The conjunctiva is a thin tissue that covers the front of your eye and the back of your eyelids. The conjunctiva helps protect your eye and keep it moist. Most people see the pink color of the white (or sclera) of the eye and call it “pink eye”.

What causes conjunctivitis?

The most common cause is infection with bacteria or a virus. This often happens when bacteria gets into your eye. This can happen when you touch your eye or wear contact lenses. Allergies are also a common cause of conjunctivitis. The cells in your conjunctiva can react to an allergen. Some examples of allergens include grass, dust, animal fur, or mascara. Infectious causes (viral or bacterial) are easily spread from person to person. Wash your hands and face to help stop the spread.

Common symptoms of conjunctivitis may include:

      • Pink or red color in the white of the eye(s)
      • Watery eyes
      • Itchy or scratchy eyes
      • Discharge from the eye(s)
      • Crusting of eyelids or lashes

How is conjunctivitis treated?

Pink eye may go away on its own. Treatment depends on what is causing your conjunctivitis. You may need allergy medicine to decrease itchiness. It can also reduce the redness. Antibiotics may be needed if the cause is bacteria. either of these might be given by pill, eye drop, eye ointment or nasal spray.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Cool compress – a wet washcloth with cold water placed on you eye.
  • Do Not Wear Contact Lenses – they will cause further irritation. Throw away the pair you are using. Wear glasses.
  • Avoid Smoke filled areas and stay away from wind or sun.
  • Wash your face and hands with soap and warm water
  • Flush you eye with sterile eye wash (buffered saline works well)

When to Seek Medical Care

Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis is commonly treated by Doctors and can be treated by telemedicine. Just upload a photo of you eyes and get a close up of he affected eye so the Doctor can see a detailed photo.

You may need to see a Doctor in person when these signs and symptoms present:

    • Eye pain – eye pain with sensitivity to light can be a corneal abrasion or ulcer (especially in contact lens wearers).
    • Pain with movement of the eye
    • Trauma – if something hit you in the eye or face or if something blew into you eye from wind.
    • Vision changes or loss of vision
    • Fever, chills or sweats
    • Jaw pain 


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