Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis): Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

Pink eye: it sounds pretty and cute, but in reality, it is a quite serious – and sometimes contagious – eye condition, in which inflammation or infection affects the transparent membrane – the conjunctiva – that surrounds your eyeball and inner parts of the eyelids. This causes the affected eyeball to turn red or pink, hence the name. What causes conjunctivitis – the official medical term for the eye condition? Is it really contagious? When and for who is it contagious? How can I recognize it? And what are possible treatment options? These are questions that you really should know the answer to, as this eye condition is really no fun, and you don’t want to infect others with pink eye, am I right?

Causes & Types of Pink Eye
In general, children often suffer from conjunctivitis because it can be incredibly contagious, and schools or daycares are perfect places to spread rapidly. After all, children don’t keep much, if any, distance from each other, so pink eye – and other virally contagious diseases – are easily transmitted. Of course, this does not mean that adults are not affected, or that the eye condition is always contagious. There are different types of pink eye:

  • Viral strains; most common – and contagious – form. Starts often in one eye and after a few days, the other eye is affected too.
  • Bacterial strains; affects mostly one eye and involve a lot of pus and mucus
  • Allergic types; a reaction to something your body can’t tolerate
  • Ophthalmia neonatorum; a severe form of conjunctivitis that affects newborns. Make sure to get treatment asap.
  • Giant papillary conjunctivitis; reaction to long-term use of contacts or an artificial eye.

Causes of conjunctivitis can differ quite a bit depending on the type you’re suffering from. Viruses are the most common cause. There are several viruses that can cause pink eye, the most well-known are the common cold and COVID-19. Bacterial conjunctivitis is another common form and is caused by, you’d probably guessed it, bacteria. Bacteria that cause this are Staphylococcus aureus, Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumonia, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Other reasons for conjunctivitis are:

  • Allergens, like pollen and molds
  • Irritating substances, like shampoos, contact lenses, eye makeup, and pool chlorine
  • STDs, like gonorrhea and chlamydia
  • Foreign object in the eye
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Blocked or incompletely opened tears ducts; only for newborns

Conjunctivitis is the most common eye condition in kids and adults in the United States. About 6 million people suffer from it each year. Don’t worry, it is very unlikely to damage your vision. It isn’t a very serious condition – only highly contagious,- especially when you seek treatment and listen to your professional healthcare provider once you have determined that it is pink eye. How do you recognize conjunctivitis? You’ll read everything about it on the next page, so continue reading quickly.