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Pink Eye Q & A

Do you have red, itchy, watery, discharge eyes?

Pink eye is a common eye problem that may require simple treatment, if any with its onset. As a board-certified general and medical optometrist, Dr. Mary Espy specializes in treating ocular disease and welcomes patients seeking relief from pink eye. Call or request an appointment online with Dr. Mary Espy in Flint, Michigan, to bring this irritating eye problem to an end.

What is pink eye?

Pink eye is also known as conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the lining of the eyelid and eye surface due to the dilation of blood vessels. It refers to viral conjunctivitis, which is a highly-contagious infection caused by different viruses.

While contagious, pink eye isn’t usually a serious condition as it often goes away on its own over the course of 7-10 days. Dr. Espy, however, does offer treatment to get rid of its bothersome symptoms.

What are the different types of pink eye?

There are three primary types of conjunctivitis with different causes. These include:

Viral conjunctivitis

Caused by a virus, this strand is the most common case. It’s highly contagious, but it typically clears up on its own without medical treatment.

Bacterial conjunctivitis

As the name suggests, bacteria cause this type of pink eye. It usually requires a trip to your doctor as it may cause serious damage if left untreated.

Allergic conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis arises from eye irritants and affects susceptible individuals. Some common irritants include pollen, dust, and pet dander. It’s the only type of conjunctivitis that isn’t contagious.

What causes pink eye?

Several causes trigger inflammation and create the common symptoms of bloodshot, itchy, and watery eyes. They may depend on the type of conjunctivitis you have, but most cases of pink eye are caused by:

  • Infections due to viruses or bacteria
  • Lack of tears or exposure to wind and sun
  • Chemicals, fumes, or smoke
  • Allergies, such as pollen or dust

To avoid spreading pink eye, be sure to wash your hands religiously.

What are symptoms of pink eye?

Pink eye has some similar symptoms across the different types. These include:

  • Redness in the whites of the eyes
  • Eyelid swelling
  • Itching or burning sensation of the eyelids
  • Swollen and tender areas in front of the ears
  • Tearing or watering
  • Clear or slightly thick, white drainage

There are, however, symptoms specific to each strand of pink eye. Signs of viral conjunctivitis include:

  • Watery, itchy eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Can affect both eyes

Symptoms of bacterial conjunctivitis include:

  • A sticky, yellow or greenish-yellow discharge in the corner of the eye
  • Can affect both eyes

And signs of allergic conjunctivitis include:

  • Watery, burning, itchy eyes
  • Stuffiness and a runny nose
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Affects both eyes

Contact Dr. Mary Espy if you have any concerns about pink eye or are seeking treatment.