We frequently receive calls at Eyecare Medical Group from patients wondering is their “red eyes” might be conjunctivitis or “pink eye”. First, without coming in to see us for an external eye exam it is really not possible to tell over the phone. But when you do come in, we will be able to look for a number of signs and thoroughly discuss your symptoms to help determine whether you have “pink eye” or conjunctivitis.
Signs & Symptoms of Pink Eye Conjunctivitis
About Bacterial Conjunctivitis
If you have a bacterial infection causing pink eye conjunctivitis, you will usually have very red eyes. You may find crusting on your eyelids that can make them stick together as well as a heavy, pus-like discharge from your eyes that may be greenish at times. This infection may spread to both eyes.
About Viral Conjunctivitis
If you have a viral conjunctivitis we often will find a very red, swollen eye, crusty eyelids and a more watery discharge. This discharge can also have strands of mucus or white, ropy strands. While many cases of viral pink eye infect only one eye, this infection can also spread to the other eye.
About Allergic Conjunctivitis
If you have an allergic conjunctivitis and your allergies are causing your conjunctivitis, it will often look similar to viral conjunctivitis. Your eyes will be red and tearing. However, they will also be itchy. It is likely you may have a stuffy, runny or itchy nose as well.
Treatment of Pink Eye Conjunctivitis
Typically, treatment is mostly supportive. Antibiotics do not treat viral infections but do work well in treating bacterial conjunctivitis. Regardless of the cause, it is important to minimize exposure of others by washing your hands frequently and throwing away used tissues. Do not share towels or pillow cases. Consider staying home from work or school until you are symptom-free for 24 hours. If you are a contact lens wearer, you should discontinue their use and stick with glasses until your infection clears. Then start with a fresh pair of lenses and a clean lens case.