What are the Symptoms and Causes of Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)?

Conjunctivitis (pink eye) is an infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva (transparent membrane) that covers the whites of your eyes and lines your eyelids. When small conjunctiva blood vessels become inflamed, they are more noticeable. This is what makes the whites of your eyeballs look pink or reddish.

Pink eye is often caused by a viral or bacterial infection, an incompletely opened tear duct in babies or an allergic reaction. While it can be aggravating, it doesn’t usually affect your vision. Medical treatments can help alleviate pink eye’s discomfort. Since it could be contagious, you can limit its spread through early diagnosis and treatment.

Symptoms of Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

Individuals with conjunctivitis might experience symptoms such as:

  • Excessive tearing
  • Burning or itching sensation in one or both eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • A gritty sensation in one or both eyes
  • Discharge from an eye or both
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Pink or reddish discoloration to the whites of an eye or both

Causes of Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

The main types of pink eye, based on cause, include:

  • Viral conjunctivitis: This is caused by a virus, such as the common cold. It’s a very contagious type of pink eye, but typically clears up by itself within a few days without treatment.
  • Bacterial conjunctivitis: Bacteria causes this type of pink eye and it can cause serious damage if you leave the eye untreated.
  • Allergic conjunctivitis: Eye irritants like dust, animal dander and pollen cause this type of pink eye among susceptible people. It can flare up year-round (pet dander, dust) or it can be seasonal (pollen).

Pink eye treatment will depend on the type you have. If you wear contact lenses, as soon as symptoms of pink eye start, you must stop wearing them.

If your symptoms don’t become better within 24 hours, you have moderate to severe pain, or you have extreme redness, you’ll want to schedule an appointment with us here at Powers Eye Center to receive treatment and to ensure you don’t have a more severe eye problem. Call 719-598-5068 to set up an appointment or complete our online form.