Pink Eye (also known as conjunctivitis) is an inflammation of the conjunctiva — the clear tissue covering the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelids.
Pink Eye is one of the most common, and luckily, treatable eye conditions.
3 Types of Pink Eye / Conjunctivitis
The three main types of conjunctivitis are:
Viral conjunctivitis is the most common, and it is usually caused by the same virus that causes runny nose and sore throat in people with the common cold. This type of conjunctivitis is highly contagious.
The bacterial form of pink eye is sometimes caused by the same bacteria that cause strep throat. This type of conjunctivitis is also contagious.
Allergic conjunctivitis comes from an allergic reaction to pollen, animals, cigarette smoke, pool chlorine, car fumes or something else in the environment. Unlike the other two types of conjunctivitis, this type is not contagious.
Symptoms of Pink Eye / Conjunctivitis
Symptoms of conjunctivitis (regardless of type) include:
- red and swollen eyes
- watery or thick discharge from the eyes
- burning, painful, or itchy eyes
- feeling like something is in the eye
- light sensitivity
- hazy vision
Contracting Pink Eye / Conjunctivitis
The most common ways to get the contagious forms of conjunctivitis are by direct contact with an infected person, spreading the bacteria from one’s own nose to their eyes, and by not cleaning contact lenses properly.
5 Ways to Prevent Spreading Pink Eye
To stop the spread of infection to others, be sure to do the following:
- Avoid touching your eyes.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Keep towels and pillow cases clean.
- Clean contact lenses properly.
- Stop using eye makeup during an infection, and replace your eye makeup so as not to recontaminate yourself.
Remember — in contrast with the bacterial and viral types of infection, which are both highly contagious, allergic conjunctivitis is not at all communicable.
How to Treat Pink Eye / Conjunctivitis
Conjunctivitis treatments are dependent on the cause of the disease. Treatments often include:
- antibiotic or allergy eye drops / ointments
- cool compresses
- avoidance of the allergen or irritant
If your symptoms don’t start to improve within 12 to 24 hours of treatment, make an appointment with your eye doctor to be certain you don’t have a more serious eye infection related to contact lens use.