3 Types of Pink Eye: Symptoms & Treatment

pink eye

3 Types of Pink Eye: Symptoms & Treatment

Pink eye, otherwise known as conjunctivitis, is a common eye condition that causes painful, red and itchy eyes.

While you may have heard of pink eye before, did you know that there are different types of pink eye? Each type can have different pink eye symptoms and takes a different length of time to clear up.

In this article, we will discuss the different types of pink eye and the treatment available.

Types of Pink Eye

There are three main types of pink eye:

  • Allergic
  • Viral
  • Bacterial

Allergic Pink Eye

The first type of pink eye is the one that is caused by allergies.

Common allergens that can bring on conjunctivitis include:

  • Grass
  • Animal dander
  • Dust
  • Mold
  • Tree pollen ragweed

This type of pink eye causes you to want to continually scratch your eyes because they’re red and itchy. But, the positive thing is that when it’s allergic pink eye, it is not contagious to other people.

Viral Pink Eye

The second type of pink eye is caused by viruses. This is the most common type found in adults. People can also get this type of pink eye because of an infection that spreads from the nose to the eyes. A simple sneeze or a cough can cause this due to small droplets landing directly in the eye from the mouth.

what is pink eye

This means that viral pink eye can stem from an upper respiratory infection or cold.

The two most common viruses that cause pink eye are:

  • Adenovirus (the most common)
  • Herpes virus (uncommon but dangerous)

When you have a viral pink eye infection, it can last a few days to about two weeks. This type of conjunctivitis is contagious. There are medications that can be prescribed to improve comfort and decrease redness during the infection, but like the common cold, it needs to run its course.

Bacterial Pink Eye

The third type of pink eye is caused by bacteria. A bacteria pink eye infection can last up to 10 days without any treatment. But, if you receive treatment, it can subside within a day or two. This is the most common type seen in children.

The most common ways bacterial pink eye happens is by:

  • Sharing personal hygiene or other items
  • Touching the eye with dirty hands
  • Using unclean or old makeup and makeup brushes

An optometrist is the best person to diagnose the difference between a bacterial and viral eye infection. Antibiotics will treat a bacterial infection, but not a viral infection.

Pink Eye Symptoms

When your pink eye symptoms are still present, you’re considered to be contagious. The only type of pink eye that isn’t contagious is one caused by allergies.

Here are pink eye symptoms to look out for:

  • Discharge from the eye
  • Tearing up
  • Red or pink in the white part of the eyes
  • Constant irritation of the eyes
  • Crusty eyelashes and lids
  • Swelling around the eyes
  • A burning sensation

If you have pink eye that is contagious, it’s important to stay home and not interact with many people. Often daycares, schools and workplaces will request a person not to return until their symptoms have cleared.

Pink Eye Treatment

The pink eye treatment depends on the type of conjunctivitis you have.

If you have a mild case of pink eye, it can clear on its’ own with no medical intervention. This can happen within a few days for both viral and bacterial pink eye.

Some treatment for while the pink eye heals, you may consider:

  • Eye drops with antihistamine
  • A clean cloth to wipe the eyes
  • Artificial tears to add more moisture
  • Cold and hot compresses to reduce swelling

You will also want to:

  • Clean all eyewear
  • Throw out your old makeup
  • Stop wearing makeup while experiencing pink eye
  • Throw out any disposable contact lenses
  • Stop using contact lens while experiencing pink eye

In more severe cases, people should see a doctor for medication. Medication treatment for pink eye can include:

  • Antibiotic eye drops to stop the bacterial infection
  • Antiviral medications to fight the viral infection (such as herpes) or anti-inflammatories for other types to reduce redness and discomfort

A doctor may recommend some additional treatments to reduce the symptoms of allergic pink eye. If you have any more questions regarding pink eye and the symptoms and treatment, contact Orchard Park Optometry today. Dr. Mat Broschak is the proud owner of Orchard Park Optometry and is available to discuss this condition with you. Book an appointment with him by calling 250-762-2090 or contact us online.



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