Help! My Eye Is Pink

Conjunctivitis - pink eye, red eye - diagnosis and treatment from the eye doctors at Artsian Optics Boise Idaho


'Pink eye' is a term used by many people to describe an eye condition called 'conjunctivitis'. Conjunctivitis is a general term that encompasses a variety of etiologies. It is like saying that you are sick; it does not tell you why you are sick (the cause) or how to get better (the treatment). So if your eye is pink, red, rose, burgandy, mauve or any other shade of red you can think of... you need to find out why your eye is not happy and work with an eye doctor to fix the problem.


Allergies, eye infections and eye injuries can cause red eyes. See the doctors at Artisan Optics Boise Idaho


The common thread for many eye conditions is that the eye looks pink or red. The clinical term for a 'pink eye' is a conjunctivitis. The conjunctiva is a clear tissue that encompasses blood vessels and covers the white part of your eye (sclera) and the inside of the eyelid. The conjunctiva actually forms a barrier within the eye. So contrary to popular belief objects (like contacts) cannot work their way behind your eye into the least not normal objects (don't test your luck with projectiles, the conjunctiva is not as strong as Captain America's shield). Anyway a conjunctivitis is when the conjunctiva becomes inflamed secondary to an irritant.


What are the main causes of a conjunctivitis?


  1. Viral: Viral conjunctivitis is most commonly associated with the every day common cold - Those pesky respiratory viruses that our doctors tell us we can't have antibiotics for. Yep, those same infections get into the eyes very easily. The virus is a form of adenovirus. It is highly contagious. Generally with a viral conjunctivitis it can be airborne but it can also be on our hands. It can also easily be transmitted to the fellow eye. An important example on why you should always wash your hands!

  2. Bacterial: Bacterial conjunctivitis is more common in younger children than adults and can be associated with contact lens wear. A bacterial conjunctivitis can also be associated with being sick and is also very contagious. Generally a bacterial conjunctivitis has a more pronounced mucus discharge that results in the eyes being stuck together in the morning. However, it is important to mention that mucus is not a definitive sign of a bacterial conjunctivitis. The only way to get a definitive diagnosis is to visit an eye care professional.

  3. Allergic: Allergic conjunctivitis is an inflammation associated with a specific allergen. Most people who experience an allergic conjunctivitis have an association with seasonal allergies, but others may be having a reaction to a specific irritant. During an allergic conjunctivitis the body releases inflammatory cells to help contain the foreign allergen. The body also releases histamines that can cause itchy eyes.

  4. Herpes: While herpes is a virus it has a different presentation than a viral conjunctivitis. It can also be from Herpes Simplex (common cold sore) or Herpes Zoster (shingles).

  5. Foreign Body/Chemical Splash: A conjunctivitis can also be caused from a foreign body or a chemical splash in the eye. Remember a conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctival tissue so alien material can be very irritating and also sight threatening.


The eye doctors at Artisan Optics Boise Idaho diagnose and treat pink eye, red eye, allergic eyes and eye infections


Determination of the type of conjunctivitis is very important because treatment options differ depending on etiology. This is why it is important to see an eye doctor for your eye problem; they have the knowledge and equipment necessary to accurately diagnose and treat your eye disease. If you don't treat your pink eye (or improperly traet it), the conjunctivitis can progress to involve the cornea. Corneal involvement can cause increased pain and can be sight threatening.


What are the common symptoms associated with a conjunctivitis?

  1. Pink/Red appearance

  2. Watery eyes

  3. Discharge

  4. Mild discomfort

  5. Lid swelling

  6. Lids stuck together in the morning

  7. Itchiness

  8. Grittiness


Extreme pain is not a common symptom with a conjunctivitis of an infectious nature. Cornea involvement will increase pain. This is called a keratitis and is a discussion for another day!


Pink eye can happen to anyone, but there are some people who feel like they get them more than their fair share of the time. This begs the question; are there any risk factors that can make people more susceptible to conjunctivitis? The answer is yes, and some of these factors include:

  1. Being immunocompromised

  2. Wearing contact lenses

  3. Dry eye

  4. Allergies


What should I do if I have a conjunctivitis?

  1. Visit your eye doctor, or an eye doctor who routinely treats eye infections

  2. Wash your hands frequently

  3. Avoid rubbing your eyes

  4. Do not share linens with others

  5. Discontinue contact lens wear immediately and only resume contact lens wear after your doctor has told you to do so.

  6. You may need to stay home from work/school for a couple of days to prevent spreading

  7. Take medications as directed by your eye doctor

  8. Stick to your doctor's follow-up schedule (even if you are feeling better)


Pink eye is the generic term for a conjunctivitis. It is important to contact your doctor to receive the most appropriate treatment. This will help you feel better faster and prevent the condition from worsening! Keep your eyes like Sandy from Grease, “too pure to be pink.”


The pediatric eye doctor at Artisan Optics Boise Idaho treats pink eye for kids


Posted by Artisan Optics at 6/17/2016 6:27:00 PM
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