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Pink Eye Diagnosis & Treatment

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What is the main cause of pink eye?

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Pink eye or conjunctivitis has many different causes ranging from bacterial, viral, or allergic. Pink eye can even be caused by blocked tear ducts or secondary to a sinus or ear infection. We have seen some pink eyes caused by a rare inflammatory condition called anterior uveitis or iritis.

The infection is an acute inflammation which causes redness and swelling of the conjunctiva, which is the clear mucous membrane that lines the eyelid and the surface of the eye. Pink eye can be caused by a virus, bacteria or even allergies such as pollen, chlorine in swimming pools, and ingredients in cosmetics or other products that come in contact with the eyes.

Some forms of pink eye can be highly contagious and easily spread in schools and at home.

What does beginning pink eye look like?

Often times pink eye simply looks pink or red or inflamed. Pink eye patients will often have some discharge and discomfort.

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How can you tell if pink eye is bacterial or viral?

Unfortunately many patients elect to see their primary care physician or an urgent care center for pink eye. Unfortunately physicians at these care centers lack the equipment or instrumentation to determine the cause of pink eye.

The Doctors of Optometry at Vision Professionals have advanced instrumentation and microscopes (slit lamps) that assist in determining the cause and best treatment for each type of pink eye. Patients concerned about pink eye should contact us to

What Are The Causes of Conjucntivitis?

There are three main types of pink eye infections: bacterial, viral and allergic conjunctivitis.

medical-plus medical-plus What is Viral Conjunctivitis Caused By?

Viral Conjunctivitis is usually caused by an adenovirus, the same virus that produces the recognizable red and watery eyes, sore throat, cough and runny nose of the common cold or upper respiratory infection. Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious usually spread because of poor hygiene especially a lack of hand washing.

Symptoms of viral conjunctivitis usually last from five days to a week but may last longer. Since there is generally no medical treatment for a viral infection you have to wait for the infection to run its course. To avoid spreading the infection to others, it is recommended to stay home from school or work until the symptoms disappear which is usually after 3-5 days or up to a week.

Viral conjunctivitis typically causes a light discharge and very watery, red eyes. To relieve discomfort, you can apply cool compresses to the eyes and artificial tears.

medical-plus medical-plus What is Bacterial Pink Eye Caused By?

Bacterial pink eye is usually caused by Staphylococcus or Streptococcus bacteria and is often characterized by a significant amount of yellow, sticky discharge. Also contagious, bacterial pink eye can be picked up from bacteria found anywhere and often spread to the eye by touching them with unclean hands. Contact lens wearers are at a higher risk for bacterial pink eye due to the handling of lenses and unclean contact lens cases.

Treatment is usually administered by antibiotic eye drops which should begin to show improvement after three or four days, however the infection can also resolve itself after a week to 10 days without treatment. If you do use antibiotic drops, you can return to work or school 24 hours after you being treatment.

medical-plus medical-plus What Causes Allergic Conjunctivitis?

Allergic conjunctivitis is not infectious or contagious as it is an allergic reaction to something in the environment such as pollen, pet dander or smoke. Symptoms, which occur in both eyes, include redness, itching and excessive tearing.

The first step in treating allergic conjunctivitis is to remove or avoid the irritant, if possible. Applying cool compresses and artificial tears can help to relieve discomfort in mild cases. In more severe cases, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and antihistamines might be

prescribed. In cases of persistent allergic conjunctivitis, topical steroid eye drops are used.

Want to get rid of pink eye fast?

Well, this depends on the type of pink eye. Other than artificial tears which help clear irritants, over the counter medications often do not help for pink eye. The incorrect over-the-counter eye drop can make pink eye last longer, so use caution when self treating. Some types of pink eye can resolve in a day, while other types can linger for a week or even longer. During a pink eye exam, the correct type of pink eye will be determined, and then a qualified eye doctor can prescribe the best course of action to get rid of your pink eye fast!

medical-plus medical-plus Will pink eye go away on its own?

Believe it or not, some pink eye’s can actually resolve on its own.   Correct diagnosis and treatment of pink eye will reduce the chances of pink eye lingering too long. 

medical-plus medical-plus How did I get pink eye overnight?

How did I get pink eye overnight?

The closed eyelid provides a warm moist environment for many types of pink eye, especially bacterial conjunctivitis.  These should be seen by an eye doctor within 24 hours especially if associated with light sensitivity or pain.

medical-plus medical-plus How long is pink eye contagious for?

How long is pink eye contagious for?

Some pink eyes can be contagious for seven or eight days.  If someone in your family also has pink eye or you have pink eye in one eye and then it goes to the other eye, almost always this is a viral pink eye. Viral pink eyes are the most contagious and most concerning to school nurses.   Pink eye rarely if ever comes out of nowhere.   Viral pink eye usually is transmitted by touching the virus (someplace unknown because it isn’t visible) and then rubbing your eye with contaminated fingers.

medical-plus medical-plus Should I stay home if I have pink eye?

Should I stay home if I have pink eye?

The doctor will determine if your pink eye is very contagious and you should stay home.   For a very mild pink eye often times a day or two of frequent hand washing and wiping down things you touch with alcohol or bleach wipes will be adequate.


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Symptoms of Pink Eye

Pink eye develops when the conjunctiva or thin transparent layer of tissue that lines the eyelid and the white part of the eye becomes inflamed. Symptoms can occur in one or both eyes and include:

  • Redness in the white part of the eye
  • Itching or burning
  • Discharge
  • Tearing
  • Swollen eyelids and
  • Crusty eyes in the morning

medical-plus medical-plus When should I go to the doctor for pink eye?

When should I go to the doctor for pink eye?

We recommend that anyone suspecting pink eye or anything similar, see an eye doctor such as those at Vision Professionals for a pink eye evaluation, to determine cause and appropriate course of action.    Primary care providers and urgent care centers lack the instrumentation to accurately determine the cause of your pink eye.    If your eye is painful or light sensitive, this is a higher level urgency and you should seek care within 24 hours to determine the cause.  Eye pain and light sensitivity can indicate the cause is more involved than a simple “pink eye,” and will require more aggressive treatment.

medical-plus medical-plus Do you need antibiotics for pink eye?

Some pink eye's do require antibiotics.

medical-plus medical-plus Do treatments differ between adults and kids?

There can be some differences in how we approach pink eye for kids and adults. In some cases we will prescribe a very mild and safe steroid eye drop for adults to help make symptoms and pink eye inflammation go away fast!

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Thursday, June 1, 2023:
Our office will be closed on from 8:30am-1:15pm for team training.

We will be open 1:30pm-5:30pm for appointments and patient care