In the Pink of an Eye: The Basics of Conjunctivitis

You wake up with itchy, painful eyes. Could it be pink eye? Should you go to the doctor? This handy guide to conjunctivitis has the information you need to know.

Basics of Conjunctivitis

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, occurs when the conjunctiva, a thin lining on your eyelid and the white part of your eye, becomes inflamed. This inflammation causes the blood vessels in the eye to be more visible, making the eye appear pink. Many things can produce this inflammation, including viruses, bacteria, allergens, and irritants.


Some notable symptoms are a pink color in one or both eyes, discharge from one or both eyes that ranges in color from clear to green, itchy or burning eyes, the feeling that there is something stuck in your eye, and contact lenses that won’t stay in place or hurt when you try to put them in.

Is It Contagious?

The viral and bacterial forms of pink eye are contagious, so be sure to wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes to prevent spreading the condition. Pink eye caused by irritants or allergens is not contagious. However, the inflammation in your eyes from irritants or allergens makes you more susceptible to developing a secondary case of pink eye from a virus or bacteria.

When to Contact Your Doctor

Pink eye will typically go away on its own, but there are specific circumstances that make speaking with a doctor necessary. If you experience significant eye pain, sensitivity to light, extremely red eyes, blurry vision, a case of pink eye that doesn’t seem to go away, or if you have an eye condition that can increase your chance of significant infection, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Also, if your newborn or infant has pink eye, you should take them to their pediatrician immediately.

Prevent Future Cases of Pink Eye

There are a few simple steps you can take to prevent reinfection. Throw away any makeup used just before you had pink eye, as well as any contact solution, old contact lenses (you should avoid wearing contact lenses while having the infection to prevent further irritation), and contact lens cases. Disinfect any glasses you wore and use a fresh pillowcase and towels.

If you or your child notice the symptoms of pink eye, don’t stress! Schedule a same or next-day appointment with your primary care physician or pediatrician at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group to get the care you need.


CDC | Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) Causes
CDC | Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) Treatment
NIH | Facts About Pink Eye

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