Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is an eye condition that can be highly contagious. But how do you know if you have pink eye, dry eye or just seasonal allergies?
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding pink eye:
What are the Different Types of Pink Eye?
There are three main types of pink eye: viral, bacterial and allergic. Viral pink eye usually affects both eyes and often precedes or follows an infection of the common cold virus. This type produces significant burning and watering of the eyes. The bacterial form is usually characterized by inflammation, pain, blurred vision and a thick yellowish-green discharge that creates a crust on the eye. Allergic pink eye is caused by allergens like pollen, pet dander or molds, as well as contacts or cosmetics. Allergic pink eye usually causes eyes to be very itchy and is often accompanied by nasal congestion and post-nasal drip.
What Types of Pink Eye are Contagious?
Viral and bacterial pink eye are quite contagious and are easily spread through hand-to-eye contact after touching an infected person or object. The virus can also be transmitted by respiratory droplets. Allergic pink eye is not contagious because the symptoms are a result of the body releasing histamines in response to an allergic trigger.
How Long Will Pink Eye Last?
Most cases of pink eye will last anywhere from a few days to two weeks. However, certain strains of viruses may cause more irritation. The Southwest U.S. has reported a super strain of pink eye that is more aggressive than normal and lasts several weeks.
How Do I Know Which Type of Pink Eye I Have?
Sometimes, it is difficult to isolate what type of conjunctivitis you have. If you have a history of seasonal allergies, you can take an antihistamine to see if you notice an improvement in your symptoms. The safest way to identify which type of pink eye you have is to call your ophthalmologist and request an appointment. Bacterial pink eye requires antibiotics and needs prompt treatment. Viral conjunctivitis does not respond to antibiotic drops or antihistamines, but your eye doctor may offer some advice to help relieve your symptoms.
What Other Eye Conditions can Look Like or Feel Like Pink Eye?
Dry eye and pink eye can share similar symptoms such as eye redness, light sensitivity, eye-watering, discharge, blurred vision and a scratchy sensation. Dry eye is a chronic condition that can interfere with your vision and grow more intense if it goes untreated.
Sometimes, it is hard to tell whether you have a contagious eye condition or temporary redness. Don’t delay getting your vision problem evaluated. Click here to find an ophthalmologist in your area so you can discuss your eye concerns.