Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is a common eye condition where your eye’s conjunctiva becomes irritated. Your eye becomes red, swollen, and sometimes produces a sticky discharge. Depending on your symptoms, there are three different types that you could have.

Viral Pink Eye

Viral pink eye is the most common variety of conjunctivitis, and it is extremely contagious. This is the type that quickly spreads among children in schools. It is caused by the same viruses that cause colds with runny noses and sore throats. If you have this variety of pink eye, you could experience symptoms like red, burning eyes, and watery discharge.

Bacterial Pink Eye

Bacterial pink eye is also very contagious and can easily spread from person to person. It is caused by the same bacteria that causes strep throat. Its most common symptoms are red, sore eyes and thick, sticky, sometimes greenish pus.

Allergic Pink Eye

Unlike viral and bacterial conjunctivitis, allergic pink eye is not contagious. It is caused by an allergic reaction to pollen or irritation from pool chlorine, smoke, or other irritants. Its main symptom is itchy eyes. However, you might also have puffy eyelids, red, burning eyes, and tearing.

Treatments for Conjunctivitis

Each type of pink eye is treated differently. With viral conjunctivitis, there is no treatment because your body will fight it on its own. Putting cool, wet compresses on your eyes can provide some relief from the itchiness and burning.

Bacterial conjunctivitis may require antibiotic eye drops, depending on the severity of the infection. These eye drops are not effective for viral or allergic pink eye. Conjunctivitis caused by allergies is usually treated with eye drops containing an antihistamine to relieve puffiness and itchiness.

It is important to remember if you do have conjunctivitis to be careful not to infect other people. You should also immediately stop using your contact lenses, clean them as recommended, and not use them until your eyes heal. If you use eye makeup, you will need to stop using it and replace it to prevent reinfection.

Most instances of conjunctivitis will resolve within one to two weeks. However, if the symptoms continue after two weeks, it is time to see your eye doctor. Contact Valley Eyecare Center to schedule an appointment by calling (602) 955-2700.