Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is a common eye infection that causes the conjunctiva (the clear membrane that lines the inside of the eyelids and covers the white part of the eye) to become red and inflamed. It can affect one or both eyes.
There are two main types of pink eye:
- Viral pink eye: This is the most common type of pink eye. It is caused by a virus and is usually mild and goes away on its own within a week or two.
- Bacterial pink eye: This type of pink eye is less common, but it can be more serious. It is caused by bacteria and can spread easily from person to person.
Symptoms of Pink Eye
The symptoms of pink eye can vary depending on the type of infection. However, some common symptoms include:
- Red, irritated eyes
- Swollen eyelids
- Discharge from the eyes (usually clear or yellowish)
- Pain or burning in the eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Difficulty opening the eyes
When to See a Doctor
If you think you have pink eye, it is important to see a doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment. This is especially important if you have bacterial pink eye, as it can spread easily to others.
Your doctor will examine your eyes and ask you about your symptoms. They may also take a sample of the discharge from your eyes to test for bacteria.
If you have viral pink eye, your doctor will likely recommend home treatment. This may include:
- Applying a cool compress to your eyes
- Using artificial tears or saline solution to keep your eyes moist
- Avoiding rubbing your eyes
- Getting plenty of rest
If you have bacterial pink eye, your doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointment. You may also need to take oral antibiotics if your infection is severe.
Preventing Pink Eye
There are a few things you can do to help prevent pink eye:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Avoid sharing towels, washcloths, and eye makeup.
- Do not touch your eyes if they are red or irritated.
- If you have pink eye, stay home from work or school until your symptoms have gone away.