What Is Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)?
Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, is a condition that occurs when there is irritation or infection in the conjunctiva — the clear tissue that covers the white part of your eye. This condition can result in very noticeable discomfort lasting for several days or even weeks, along with a noticeably red (or pink) eye.
Types of Pink Eye
Conjunctivitis has three main types: viral, bacterial, and allergic. Each type has different causes and symptoms:
- Viral Conjunctivitis – The most common type of pink eye, viral conjunctivitis is very contagious and can be transmitted by touch, often being spread at schools and crowded public places. It is characterized by red, burning eyes with watery discharge.
- Bacterial Conjunctivitis – This type of pink eye is caused by a bacterial infection, and is also highly contagious. Bacterial conjunctivitis results in a red, sore eye that emits a sticky pus.
- Allergic Conjunctivitis – The only form of pink eye that is not contagious, this type of conjunctivitis is the result of an allergic reaction, causing the eye to become watery and have itchiness, redness, and often puffy eyelids as well.
Pink Eye Treatments
Treatment options for pink eye are dependent on the type.
Viral conjunctivitis does not have any specific treatments that are effective, you must simply allow your body to fight off the virus on its own.
With bacterial conjunctivitis, your ophthalmologist will often prescribe an antibiotic eye drop solution to help clear it up. Allergic conjunctivitis can be treated similarly, but with eye drops that are made to help with itching and puffiness.
Pink Eye Treatment at Dean McGee Eye Institute
Pink eye typically clears up on its own after 1-2 weeks, regardless of the type. With that said, an ophthalmologist can often provide treatments that can speed up the healing of conjunctivitis, and also check to ensure the issue is not being caused by a more serious eye problem.