What To Know About Pink Eye

Pink eye is one of the most common (and treatable!) eye conditions in children and adults, with roughly 3 million cases of pink eye occurring in the United States each year.  Though you’ve likely met someone whose suffered from the temporary condition, you may not know all the facts. The National Eye Institute recently shared a great review on what to look for with pink eye – we’ve summarized some of the highlights below, but the full article can be found here.

What is pink eye?

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is the inflammation of the the thin, clear tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. This inflammation makes blood vessels more visible, giving the eye a pink or reddish appearance.  Signs or symptoms in the affected eye(s) include:

  • Painful, itchy or  burning sensation
  • The feeling of a foreign body in the eye
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Enlargement and/or tenderness of the lymph node in front of the ear
  • Contact lenses that do not stay in place on the eye and/or feel uncomfortable due to bumps that may form under the eyelid

Pink eye is most often caused by bacterial or viral infections, though allergic reactions and exposure to irritants can also cause pink eye. The signs and symptoms tend to be similar regardless of the underlying cause.
How is pink eye treated?

Most cases of pink eye are mild and will resolve on their own without prescription treatment. In these cases, relief can be achieved by using eyedrops (which can be purchased without a prescription) for the dryness and cold packs for the inflammation.

However, you should seek medical attention if you have any of following symptoms:

  • Moderate to severe pain in the eye(s)
  • Vision problems, such as sensitivity to light or blurred vision, that do not improve when any discharge present is wiped from the eye(s)
  • Intense redness in the eye(s)
  • Symptoms that become worse or persist when severe viral conjunctivitis is suspected

You should also seek medical attention if you have signs of conjunctivitis and you have a weakened immune system from HIV infection, cancer treatment, or other medical conditions or treatments.

For more information on pink eye, visit the National Eye Institute online.