The translucent membrane (conjunctiva) that borders your eyelid and covers the white area of your eyeball is inflamed or infected with pink eye (conjunctivitis). Small blood vessels in the conjunctiva become more apparent as they get irritated. It’s because of this that the whites of your eyes seem crimson or pink.

A bacterial or viral infection, an allergic reaction, or — in neonates — an incompletely opened tear duct are the most common causes of pink eye.

Though pink eye might be bothersome, it seldom causes vision problems. Pink eye can be relieved with a variety of treatments. Because pink eye is contagious, it is best to diagnose and treat it as soon as possible.

Symptoms include:

  • A discharge in one or both eyes that forms a crust during the night and prevents your eye or eyes from opening in the morning
  • A gritty feeling in one or both eyes
  • Itching in one or both eyes
  • Redness in one or both eyes
  • Tearing

When should you see a doctor?

Eye redness can be caused by a variety of dangerous eye disorders. Eye pain, a feeling that something is lodged in your eye (foreign body sensation), impaired vision, and light sensitivity are all symptoms of these disorders. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, visit a doctor right once.

Contact lens wearers should cease wearing their contacts as soon as pink eye symptoms appear. Make an appointment with your eye doctor if your symptoms don’t improve within 12 to 24 hours to ensure you don’t have a more serious eye infection caused by contact lens use.


Pink eye can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • In the eye, a chemical splash
  • In the eye, there’s a foreign object
  • Allergies
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses can cause a clogged tear duct in neonates.

Conjunctivitis caused by viruses and bacteria:

Adenovirus is the most common cause of pink eye, but it can also be caused by herpes simplex virus, varicella-zoster virus, and a variety of other viruses, including the virus that causes coronavirus syndrome (COVID-19).

Colds or symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as a sore throat, can cause viral or bacterial conjunctivitis. Bacterial conjunctivitis can be caused by wearing contact lenses that haven’t been properly cleansed or aren’t your own.

Both are extremely contagious. They are transmitted through direct or indirect contact with the fluid that drains from an infected person’s eye. It’s possible that one or both eyes are impacted.

Allergic conjunctivitis is a type of allergic conjunctivitis:

Allergic conjunctivitis is a reaction to an allergen such as pollen that affects both eyes. Immunoglobulin E is an antibody produced by your body in response to allergens (IgE). This antibody causes specific cells in the mucous lining of your eyes and airways called mast cells to release inflammatory compounds like histamines. The production of histamine by your body can cause a variety of allergy symptoms, including red or pink eyes.

You may suffer stinging, tearing, and inflammation of the eyes, as well as sneezing and watery nasal discharge, if you have allergic conjunctivitis. Allergy eyedrops can be used to treat most allergic conjunctivitis.

Irritation can cause conjunctivitis:

Conjunctivitis can also be caused by irritation from a chemical splash or a foreign item in your eye. Redness and irritation can occur as a result of flushing and cleaning the eye to remove the chemical or object. Watery eyes and a mucous discharge are common signs and symptoms, which usually go away on their own after about a day.

If the symptoms persist after flushing, or if the chemical is caustic, such as lye, you should consult your doctor or an eye expert as soon as possible. A chemical splash in the eye can result in permanent vision loss. Persistent symptoms could signal that the foreign body is still in your eye, or that there is a scrape on the cornea or the covering of the eyeball (sclera).

Factors that are at risk:

  • Contact with someone infected with a viral or bacterial form of conjunctivitis are all risk factors for pink eye.
  • Exposure to anything to which you are allergic (allergic conjunctivitis)
  • Wearing contact lenses, particularly extended-wear contact lenses


Pink eye can induce corneal irritation in both children and adults, which can impair vision. Eye pain, a sense that something is lodged in your eye (foreign body sensation), blurred vision, or light sensitivity should all be evaluated and treated by your doctor as soon as possible.


Keeping pink eye from spreading

  • Don’t share washcloths or towels.
  • Eye makeup and personal eye care goods should not be shared.
  • Get rid of your eye makeup, such as mascara.
  • Replace your pillowcases on a regular basis.
  • Use a fresh towel and washcloth on a daily basis.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Don’t contact your eyes with your hands, for example.
  • To prevent the spread of pink eye, practise proper hygiene.

Remember that pink eye is not communicable in the same way that a regular cold is. If you are unable to take time off, it is acceptable to return to work, school, or child care; nevertheless, you must maintain a constant level of hygiene.

Preventing newborns from getting pink eye:

The eyes of newborns are vulnerable to bacteria found in the mother’s birth canal. In the mother, these germs create no symptoms. In rare situations, these bacteria can cause ophthalmia neonatorum, a dangerous form of conjunctivitis in infants that requires immediate treatment to save their sight. As a result, an antibiotic ointment is administered to every newborn’s eyes shortly after birth. The ointment protects the eyes from infection.

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Nurse Practitioner Nadine McFarlane is a board certified Family Medicine Nurse Practitioner who provides primary care

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