Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis), Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Preventive Measures

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Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

It is a common presentation from each individual at least once in their lifetime; some arise in an acute form (developed within short duration) and some others in chronic form. This individual affected by conjunctivitis can be from new-born to adult or elderly ones. This is always taken as an emergency case due to its differential diagnosis that could be sight-threatening as well.

It is a prime responsibility of an eye care professionals to take care of patients suffering from Pink eyes, through proper history taking, examination and needful tests followed by a proper plan of management implying both preventive and curative aspects of eye care. Thus, needlessly, it is both a care-seeker and care providers equal part of their job to treat the red-eye.


Eye with congestion of conjunctiva due to pink eye
Image Source: Gw Eye


How do you get pink eye?

You may get a Pink eye by an infection caused by bacteria or viruses, contact lens use, chemicals, fungi, and certain diseases. It may also sue to an allergic reaction, or in babies, it is due to an incompletely opened tear duct. You can also get pinkeye by using the towel, a handkerchief of an infected person.

What Causes the Pink Eye?

The common causes can be taken as

  • Viruses
  • Bacteria,
  • Allergens,
  • Contact lens wear
  • Foreign bodies in the eye
  • Indoor and outdoor air pollution caused, for example, by smoke, dust, fumes,
  • Chemicals
  • Fungi
  • Amoeba and parasites

Depending upon the cause, your presentation to the eye-service provider could vary

Pink Eye Symptoms

  • The pink or red color in the white of the eye(s) (Conjunctiva)
  • Swelling of the conjunctiva or even entire eyeball (Chemosis)
  • Watering from eyes
  • Pain mild, moderate to severe
  • Photo-sensitivity
  • Foreign body sensation in the eye(s) or a willingness to rub the eye(s)
  • Irritation, and/or burning sensation
  • Itching
  • A discharge which could be watery or mucoid
  • Sticking of eyelids or lashes, especially in the morning
  • Contact lenses that feel uncomfortable and/or do not stay in place on the eye
  • The symptoms may vary depends upon the cases.
Appearance of normal eye compared to pink eyes

How to avoid Pink Eyes?

Here is some precaution which helps to prevent from Pink eye (Conjunctivitis), Otherwise if you don’t follow these you may get pink eyes.
  • Avoid close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands, personalizing the clothes usage of pink eye suffered patient.
  • Coughing and sneezing, at an appropriate distance or using cloths/handkerchiefs. Use of elbow is also a good approach.
  • Do not touch your eyes after you touching any objects or surfaces which are unhygienic.
  • Use of electronic gadgets with multiple organs touch-in and touch-out. Sharing must be avoided too.

Is a pink eye contagious?

Yes if it is caused by microorganisms like bacteria, virus, fungi etc. If you have allergic conjunctivitis then it is not contagious. Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious and which can spread from the patient’s tear and discharges.

How long does pink eye last?

Usually, pink eye clears up within a few days to two weeks of symptoms starting time. There are several types of pink eyes so it may depend upon the causative pathogens, Common pink eye due to Viral infections is like adenovirus and herpes virus. It usually clears up 7 to 14 days if it doesn’t affect the transparent part of eyes (Cornea)

How the doctor make a diagnosis of Pink eyes?

By examining your eyes using Slit Lamps and other equipment doctors will diagnose based on clinical features. Sometimes your clinicians may go for the culture of the specimen/laboratory testing for the exact diagnosis thereby imply best treatment procedures.

slit lamp examination
Image: IAPB/VISION 2020 : Dr Bikram Bahadur Thapa


If you got Pink Eyes, How can you prevent it from Spreading to others?

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes.
  • With clean hands, wash any discharge from around your eye(s) several times a day using a clean, wet washcloth or fresh cotton ball or use antibiotic drops dipped in cotton buds. Throw away cotton balls after use.
  • Do not share your prescribed eye drops.
  • Wash your personal belongings properly, do not share them too.
  • Stop wearing contact lenses until you are fit to wear.
  • Do not use swimming pools, sometimes, bed rest is also advisable.

Is Pink Eye Serious?

If the redness is associated with mild to severe vision drop, this is a serious condition seeking an urgent visit to medical care from eye care professionals. Don’t use pink eye drops without consulting with eye doctors. Pink eye is contagious so follow the above-mentioned rule to stop spreadng to others.
It is always advisable to get an eye examination at your nearest eye care service providers if you suffer from Pink Eye.

Pink Eye Treatment (Conjunctivitis Treatment)

Pink eye treatment is usually focused on symptomatic relief from pink eye. Your eye doctor may recommend you to use artificial tears, cleaning your eyelids with a wet cloth, and applying cold or warm compresses several times daily.
You have to stop wearing contact lenses if you are contact lens user. Do not apply any eye makeup.
In most cases which causes by the virus doesn’t require antibiotic eye drops. Instead, the virus needs time to run its course — up to two or three weeks. Viral conjunctivitis often begins in one eye and then infects the other eye within a few days. Your signs and symptoms should gradually clear on their own.
Antiviral medications may be an option if your doctor determines that your viral conjunctivitis is caused by the herpes simplex virus and if any inflammation seen in the cornea.
In some bacterial cases, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics eye drops and anti inflammatory eye drops.

Treatment for allergic conjunctivitis

Your doctor may prescribe anti-allergic eye drops for severe cases. Read more about Allergic Conjunctivitis: Symptoms, Cause and Home Remedies
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