Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye): Things You Need To Know

Pink Eye 2.jpg

Pink, itchy eyes?  Pink eye – or conjunctivitis – is common and spreads easily. It sometimes needs medical treatment, depending on the cause. Know the symptoms, when to seek treatment, and how to help prevent it.”

What is Conjunctivitis?

A common eye condition which causes inflammation or swelling of the conjunctiva (a thin layer that lines the inside of the eye lid and covers the white part of the eye) due to viruses, bacteria, allergens, or irritants. Some refer to conjunctivitis as “pink eye” because it causes the white part of the eye to turn pink or red.


What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Pink or red color in the white of eye(s)
  • Swelling of the conjunctiva
  • Increased tearing
  • Discharge of pus (yellow-green pus common in bacterial conjunctivitis)
  • Itching/irritation/burning
  • Feeling that something is in the eye(s) or there is an urge to rub the eye(s)
  • Crusting of eyelids or lashes
  • Possible symptoms of cold, flu, or respiratory infection
  • Sensitivity to bright light

What are the causes?

Viral Conjunctivitis

-Can be caused by a number of different viruses including upper respiratory tract infection, cold or sore throat.

-Spreads easily between people, but will not restrict you from attending class.

-Typically mild and usually clears up in 7-14 days without treatment and resolves without any long-term effects

Bacterial Conjunctivitis

-Caused by infection of the eye with certain bacteria.

-Typically mild and can last as few as 2-3 days or up to 2-3 weeks. Many cases improve in 2-5 days without treatment. However, topical antibiotics can be prescribed to treat the infection.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

-Caused by the body’s reaction to allergens such as pollen from trees, plants, weeds: dust mites; molds; dander from animals; contact lenses and lenses solution; and cosmetics.

-Clears up once the allergen or irritant is removed or after treatment with allergy medication. Antihistamine eye drops and/or pills alleviate symptoms.

How is it treated?

-Treatment varies depending on the cause. It is most commonly mild and will resolve on its own without treatment, although there may be times medical treatment is required.

-Symptoms can be soothed by applying warm or cool compresses to closed eyes. Lubricant eye drops can also increase comfort.

-Wash your hands often and limit touching your eyes to avoid spreading to others.

-Discontinue contact lens use during treatment and replace your contacts after symptoms resolve.

Here are some prevention tips to avoid Conjunctivitis:

-Wash your hands often with soap and warm water.

-Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes.

-Wash any discharge from around the eyes several times a day. Wash hands first then use a cotton ball or tissue to cleanse the eye area.

-Do not use the same eye drop bottle for infected and non-infected eyes.

-Wash pillowcases, sheets, washcloths, and towels in hot water and detergent.

-Do not share eye makeup, face make-up, make-up brushes, contact lenses and containers, or eyeglasses.

-Handle and clean contact lenses properly. It is best to avoid sleeping with contacts in.

Make an appointment at 315-443-9005 if you experience:

-Conjunctivitis with moderate to severe pain in the eye(s).

-Conjunctivitis with vision problems, sensitivity to light, blurred vision that does not improve when any discharge present is wiped away.

-Conjunctivitis with intense redness in the eye(s).

-Bacterial conjunctivitis is being treated with antibiotics and does not improve after 24 hours of treatment.

For more information: