- Allergic Conjunctivitis
- Pink Eye Conjunctivitis
There are several reasons your eyes turn pink or red. Learn to recognize the differences between them to get effective relief.
What is conjunctivitis?
The inner eyelid (conjunctiva) helps protect and lubricate the eye. The white portion of the eyeball is called the sclera. Conjunctivitis is an infection or an allergic inflammation of the conjunctiva and the sclera. Though infection and allergies both cause the eyes to turn red or pink, it is essential to know why they are different.
The “pink eye” form of conjunctivitis is an infection of the conjunctiva. Viruses and bacteria are the usual cause of pink eye, which often affects only one eye at first, with the infection often spreading to the other eye later.
Both pink eye and allergic conjunctivitis both cause:
- Runny eyes
- Red or pink eyes
- The feeling of something foreign in the eye
What causes allergic conjunctivitis?
Outdoor and indoor allergens cause allergic conjunctivitis. These environmental allergens get in your eyes, leading to irritation. Some common allergens are:
Chemicals, dust, and smoke can also irritate the eyes and cause inflammation and red conjunctiva and sclera. The eyes are sensitive and easily exposed to these irritants. But eye allergies are not contagious.
There are two types of allergic conjunctivitis:
- Seasonal conjunctivitis — is associated with spring and summer and is triggered by pollen and grass
- Perennial conjunctivitis — persists year-round and is triggered by dust and dander
What causes 'pink eye' conjunctivitis?
Viral conjunctivitis can persist along with cold or flu symptoms. It causes the eye to drain watery liquid. Bacterial conjunctivitis usually has a thick discharge that makes the upper and lower eyelids and lashes stick together. It can often exist along with an ear infection.
What are the symptoms of both types of conjunctivitis?
Symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis include:
Pink eye symptoms include:
- Increased tears
- Pink or red-eye (one or both)
- Conjunctivas are swollen, burning, and irritated
- Mucus discharge
- Eye crust
If experiencing pink eye, your contact lenses may feel painful and will not stay in place.
How do you diagnose conjunctivitis?
A doctor can diagnose what is going on with your eyes. They will determine which type of conjunctivitis you have through a series of tests. Your medical team will take your medical history and perform a physical exam. Specialized blood tests can tell if you have an infection. Skin tests can sometimes identify the specific allergen causing the allergic reaction.
What are the treatments for conjunctivitis?
Usually, allergic conjunctivitis is treated by:
Simple things that you can do personally:
- Wash clothes and bedding often to reduce allergens
- Bathe before bed
- Wash your face after being outside
- Change your contact solution every day and keep your contacts clean
- The patient is immunocompromised
- There is discharge (pus)
- Conjunctivitis occurs in people whose immune system is compromised
- Your doctor believes your pink eye is caused by certain bacteria
Antibiotics shorten infection length and reduce the risk of passing pink eye to someone else.
If you have any of the symptoms above and have pink or red eyes, you should try to be seen by a doctor soon. Early detection of the cause of your eye problem can help to avoid further complications in the future.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "Eye Allergies (Allergic Conjunctivitis)."
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: "Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)."
John Hopkins Medicine: "Allergic Conjunctivitis."