Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis): Symptoms and Causes

Conjunctivitis is an eye disorder that can be brought about by infections, allergies, and irritants. You may have previously suffered conjunctivitis if you’ve had red, itchy, and watery eyes. To shed light on this painful eye condition, this blog post discusses the signs, symptoms, and causes of pink eye.


What is Conjunctivitis (Pink eye)?

Pink eye, sometimes called conjunctivitis, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva tissue. Conjunctive forms a thin layer of transparent tissue between the inner and outer surfaces of the eye. Conjunctivitis also gets its other name pink eye since the white part of the eye frequently becomes pink or red, giving the eye a pink look.

Types of Conjunctivitis

Types of pink eye may present iin a variety of forms, including:

  1. Viral conjunctivitis: In conjunctivitis, viruses, such as adenoviruses, cause the most prevalent type of conjunctivitis. It is highly infectious and causes redness, itching, and tearing in the eye. One can often heal from viral conjunctivitis within a week or two and may not usually need antibiotic treatment.
  2. Bacterial conjunctivitis: Conjunctivitis caused by bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumonia, or Haemophilus influenzae is called bacterial conjunctivitis. Although the symptoms can be similar to those of viral conjunctivitis and can also be very contagious, the discharge from the eyes is often thicker and is either yellow or green. An eye doctor may prescribe antibiotics or ointments as a cure for bacterial infection.
  3. Allergic conjunctivitis: Allergens, including pollen, dust, pet dander, or mold spores, can cause this type of conjunctivitis. It usually manifests as redness, itching, tearing, and swelling of the eyelids and is not communicable. Antihistamine eye drops, corticosteroid eye drops, or other allergy drugs can treat allergic conjunctivitis when prescribed by a medical professional.
  4. Giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC): This is a unique allergic conjunctivitis linked to long-term contact lens or ocular prosthesis use. Along with redness, itching, and discomfort, it is characterized by extensive, raised bumps (papillae) on the inner surface of the upper eyelid. GPC may necessitate modifications to contact lens wear, including using different lenses or cleaning solutions, a temporary cessation of contact lens wear, and prescription eye drops.
  5. Chemical conjunctivitis: This kind of conjunctivitis develops due to exposure to irritants or chemicals, such as smoke, substances, fumes, or foreign particles. It can result in redness, burning, tearing, and discomfort in the eye that is not communicable. The typical course of treatment entails carefully washing the eyes with fresh water and preventing future exposure to the irritant.
  6. Neonatal conjunctivitis: Neonatal conjunctivitis is typically brought on by bacterial or viral infection contracted during childbirth. Newborns can be treated with antibiotics or antiviral drugs, as a healthcare professional prescribes, but immediate medical attention is necessary to avoid potential problems.

Symptoms of Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

Depending on the underlying reason, conjunctivitis symptoms, also known as pink eye, can vary but frequently include the following:

  • Pink or red eye: Inflammation can cause the white part of the eye to look pink or red.
  • Itching: The eyes could feel irritated or itchy.
  • Teary eyes: Watery eyes or increased crying may happen.
  • Discharge: Depending on the type of conjunctivitis, there may be an ocular discharge from your eye that is watery, mucous, thick, or yellow/green. It can be a symptom of eye infection.
  • Eyelid swelling: The eyelids may swell or puff up.
  • Foreign body sensation: Some people may get the sensation of having something lodged in their eyes.
  • Vision distortion: Sometimes, vision may become briefly clouded or impaired.
  • Light sensitivity: Patients with conjunctivitis may feel their eye sensitivity to light than usual.

What causes Conjunctivitis (Pink eye)?

Conjunctivitis, sometimes known as pink eye, can be brought on by several things, such as:

  • Viruses: Viruses, such as the adenovirus or that of common cold, frequently bring on viral conjunctivitis.
  • Bacteria: Germs like Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, or Haemophilus influenzae can bring on bacterial conjunctivitis.
  • Allergens: Allergens can cause allergic conjunctivitis, including pollen, dust, pet dander, and mold spores.
  • Irritants: Irritant conjunctivitis can develop due to exposure to irritants like smoke, chemicals, gasses, or foreign objects.
  • Contact lenses: Giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC), a particular type of allergic conjunctivitis, can be brought on by prolonged use of contact lenses or ocular prosthesis, as well as by inadequate contact lens cleanliness.

Is Conjunctivitis Contagious?

Yes, conjunctivitis can be contagious, especially by bacteria or virus. It can be spread through contact with infected eye fluids or contaminated objects like towels, doorknobs, or shared cosmetics like eyeshadow. Conjunctivitis can easily spread from person to person. Thus, good hygiene habits, including routine hand washing, avoiding touching the eyes, and not sharing personal things for eye care, will assist.

Contrarily, allergic conjunctivitis is not spreadable since it results from an allergic reaction rather than an infection.

How Is Conjunctivitis Diagnosed?

Conjunctivitis can be identified by a healthcare professional, such as an ophthalmologist or optometrist, based on a thorough eye exam, medical history, and assessment of symptoms. To ascertain the underlying cause of conjunctivitis, the healthcare professional may conduct procedures like utilizing a slit light to inspect the eye under magnification, obtaining a swab of the eye discharge for laboratory investigation, or carrying out an allergy test.

How to treat conjunctivitis yourself ?

Depending on the reason, there are a few self-care techniques that might aid with conjunctivitis symptoms relief:

Viral conjunctivitis: Without special care, viral conjunctivitis usually goes away in a week or two. Warm eye compresses and lubricating eye drops can also help to calm the eyes and ease irritation. Itching may also be relieved by over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops. Still, it’s crucial to follow the directions and consult a healthcare professional before using them for a lengthy period.

Bacterial conjunctivitis: Eye specialists typically prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointment. Even if symptoms improve before the end of the authorized treatment time, it is crucial to follow all instructions and take the prescription medication precisely as prescribed.

Conjunctivitis caused by allergies: Pollen and dust are two allergens that should be avoided to prevent allergic conjunctivitis. Artificial tears or antihistamine eye solutions may aid in symptom relief. To calm the eyes, you can also use cold compresses.

Conjunctivitis from irritants, such as smoke, chemicals, or foreign objects, can be treated by avoiding the irritant and properly rinsing the eyes with water.

Can Conjunctivitis Be Prevented?

Yes, some steps can be taken to stop the spread of conjunctivitis and lower the likelihood that someone would contract the disease:

  • Use soap and warm water to wash your hands, especially before you touch your eyes or use eye drops or ointment.
  • Keep your hands clean by avoiding touching your eyes.
  • Do not exchange towels, eye cosmetics, contact lenses, or personal goods for eye care.
  • If you wear contact lenses, practice good hygiene by cleaning and disinfecting them as instructed and never using them if you have conjunctivitis.