Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva (the membrane that lines eyelid and covers the white part of the eyeball) that varies in severity from mild hyperemia to severe purulent discharge. It makes the eye appear pink or reddish and can cause pain, burning, scratchiness, or itchiness. Swelling of the white part of the eye may occur too. Conjunctivitis affects one or both eyes.

The most common cause is viral, followed by bacteria. Both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are easily spread between people. Diagnosis of this infection is often based on signs and symptoms. About 3-6 million people get conjunctivitis each year. In adults, viral caused conjunctivitis is common, while in children, bacteria caused conjunctivitis is common. Usually, people get better in one or two weeks.

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How Does Conjunctivitis Affect Your Body?

Conjunctivitis affects the mucous membranes that cover and line the eyelids. Both, the eyelids and the white part of the eyes swell up, face irritation, and turn red. The lymph nodes that surround the neck and ears may also become enlarged. Sometimes, vision becomes hazy, and the part of the eye referred to as the cornea or the keratitis, gets irritated. The eye becomes sensitive to light and feels sore as if something is in it.

What Are The Causes of Conjunctivitis?

The causes of Conjunctivitis are as follows:

  • Virus
  • Bacteria
  • Irritants such as shampoos, dirt, smoke, chlorinated water
  • Allergy
  • Foreign object in the eye
  • Presence of STD or bacteria which passes through the birth canal, in newborns
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What Are The Risk Factors of Conjunctivitis?

The risk factors of Conjunctivitis are as follows:

  • Exposure to allergens (allergic conjunctivitis)
  • Direct contact with someone infected with a viral or bacterial form of Pinkeye
  • Using contact lenses (especially extended-wear contact lenses)
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What Are The Symptoms of Conjunctivitis?

The symptoms of bacterial conjunctivitis are as follows:

  • Pink or red, painful, itchy eyes
  • Yellow or green discharge over eyelashes (especially after sleep)
  • Infected eyes may be crusted shut in the morning due to discharge
  • One or both eyes may be affected

The symptoms of viral conjunctivitis are as follows:

  • Swollen, pink, watering eyes
  • Eyes may be sensitive to light
  • Only one eye may be affected

The symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis are as follows:

  • Redness, itching, and excessive tearing (usually in both the eyes)
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How is Conjunctivitis Diagnosed?

In most cases, conjunctivitis is diagnosed by simply knowing the symptoms and recent health history, after which the doctor physically examines the eye.

It is rare when the doctor collects a sample of the discharge from the eye to examine the cause. This is usually done when the doctor suspects a high-risk cause, such as a foreign body, a serious bacterial eye infection, or a sexually transmitted infection (STD).

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How to Prevent And Control Conjunctivitis?

Following preventions may help prevent conjunctivitis:

  • Practice good hygiene
  • Do not touch your eyes with hands
  • Wash your hands often
  • Use a clean towel daily
  • Do not share towels
  • Change your pillowcases often
  • Do not use expired mascara or eye products
  • Do not share eye cosmetics or personal eye care items with anyone

Treatment of Conjunctivitis – Allopathic Treatment

Pinkeye is resolved in most of the cases without treatment and usually takes 2-5 days. Medications used are as follows –

  • Anti-histaminesDiphenhydramine is sometimes prescribed for viral conjunctivitis. It is also prescribed for allergic conjunctivitis.
  • NSAIDs – These are usually prescribed to ease symptoms caused by allergic Pinkeye.
  • Antibiotics – Topical antibiotics are prescribed for bacterial conjunctivitis only when no improvement is observed. Fluoroquinolones, sodium sulfacetamide, or trimethoprim/polymyxin may be used based on the strain of bacteria causing the infection.

Treatment of Conjunctivitis – Homeopathic Treatment

  • Apis mellifica – This medicine is used to cure puffy swelling of the eyelids.
  • Belladonna – It is used for patients with intense redness of the eyes, including bloodshot appearance.
  • Euphrasia – It is prescribed when heavy tearing burns the eye and the surrounding skin.
  • Hepar sulphur – The medicine is prescribed when the eyes feel sore or bruised, along with inflammation and burning pain.
  • Mercurius solubilis – This is prescribed to those patients who feel lousy and are sensitive to both, heat and cold.
  • Pulsatilla – It is prescribed to patients who notice a thick, yellow, and itchy discharge from the eye.
  • Sulphur – This is helpful for patients whose eyes are red with burning and itching; the eyes look red and bloodshot, and the tears feel hot.
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Conjunctivitis – Lifestyle Tips

  • Cool or warm water compressions help in soothing the pain or irritation
  • Artificial tears often help ease the irritation
  • Stopping usage of contact lenses till eyes get better helps to combat Pinkeye

What Are The Recommended Exercises For a Person With Conjunctivitis?

No specific exercise is recommended for people with conjunctivitis.

Conjunctivitis & Pregnancy – Things to Know

Conjunctivitis gets better naturally with time and is normally not a cause for concern.

Common Complications Related to Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis can cause inflammation in the cornea; this can affect vision in both children and adults.


Q. What is the Pinkeye?

A. Pinkeye, also known as conjunctivitis, is an inflammation of the inner lining of the eye.

Q. Who gets the Pinkeye?

A. Pinkeye is mostly observed in children. However, anyone can be affected by it.

Q. What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis?

A. The symptoms include red and watering eyes. A yellow discharge from the eye, swollen eyelids or blurred vision may also be noticed.

Q. Is conjunctivitis contagious?

A. Yes, conjunctivitis is highly contagious. The bacterial form of Pinkeye is not contagious after 1-2 days of taking antibiotics, whereas the viral form of Pinkeye can remain contagious until the symptoms are no longer present.

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