The Various Symptoms of Pink Eye

man with pink eye

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  • Viral pink eye is typically caused by adenoviruses, a collective term for viruses that can infect the mucous membranes that surround various organs, such as the eyes, mouth, and the respiratory tract
  • Compared to the usual eye pain and itching associated in common pink eye, the ones produced by the herpes simplex virus are more intense

The symptoms of pink eye are often caused by an infected household item, such as a doorknob or a towel. In other cases, the symptoms may be brought on by exposure from a foreign object, such as dirt, smoke or wearing contact lenses.

Common Symptoms Associated With Pink Eye

The symptoms listed below typically appear when you have recently been infected with pink eye:1

Redness in the white of the eye or inner eyelid

Increased production of tears

Thick, yellow discharge that crusts over the eyelashes, especially after waking up from sleep

Green or white discharge from the eye

Itchiness, along with a burning sensation in your eyes

Blurred vision

Increased sensitivity to light

Specific Symptoms of Pink Eye That May Appear Based on the Cause

Depending on the cause of your pink eye, some unique symptoms may appear alongside the common symptoms listed above. The following information provides a basic overview of each cause or type and their unique symptoms:2

Viral conjunctivitis

Viral pink eye is typically caused by adenoviruses, a collective term for viruses that can infect the mucous membranes that surround various organs, such as the eyes, mouth, and the respiratory tract.3

Aside from common red eye symptoms, you may begin to experience symptoms associated with flu or a cold. The discharge of your eyes tends to be watery as well.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis

Bacteria are known to cause pink eye as well. The most common strains include Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae.4

What distinguishes them from viruses is that they typically produce a yellow-green discharge, instead of the usual white color. The infection typically starts in one eye and may spread to the other one eventually.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

Pink eye may develop as a form of allergic reaction. When this happens, your eyes may produce intense itching, tearing and swelling. Other common allergic symptoms may develop as well, such as a scratchy throat, an itchy nose, sneezing or asthma.5

Herpes Simplex Conjunctivitis

Compared to the usual eye pain and itching associated in common pink eye, the ones produced by the herpes simplex virus are more intense. The virus can also lead to blisters on your eyelids, which can be threatening to your sight if not treated right away.6

Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis

Giant papillary conjunctivitis occurs in those who usually wear soft contact lenses. It is caused through excessive use or an immunological response to the material used in the lens.7

The main indicator for this condition is the inflammation of the papillae in your upper lids, which is sometimes accompanied by itching and mucus discharge. Due to the non-viral or non-bacterial cause of this condition, it is not contagious.8

Epidemic Keratoconjunctivitis

This condition is highly contagious, causing large outbreaks in schools (hence the word “epidemic” in the name). It usually lasts between one to two weeks, and may produce blurred vision that may last for months even after the infection is gone.9

Visit Your Doctor Immediately

If you begin to develop any of the symptoms listed above, it's important that you visit your doctor immediately to determine if the cause is an infection or an allergic reaction. There’s a chance you may infect your loved ones with pink eye by unknowingly spreading the viruses or bacteria around your home. By getting early treatment, you can get relief from symptoms and prevent your family from becoming infected.10

MORE ABOUT PINK EYE

Pink Eye: Introduction

What is Pink Eye

Pink Eye in Children

Pink Eye in Adults

Is Pink Eye Contagious?

Pink Eye Duration

Pink Eye Causes

Types of Pink Eye

Pink Eye Symptoms

Pink Eye Treatment

Pink Eye Prevention

Pink Eye Diet

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