Do you have pink eye? 3 Types of conjunctivitis and what to do about each one

“Pink eye” is the colloquial term for an eye condition where the white parts of the eye become itchy, red and inflamed. It’s actually an infection of the clear layer that covers the white tissue inside your eye called the conjunctiva. 


Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, isn’t usually a serious infection. Most kinds of pink eye will go away on their own after a few days. But if after this time period has passed you continue to experience issues, it may be time to arrange a visit to our Calgary eye centre.

There are three main types of pink eye. Here’s a guide to each one:


1. Viral
Viral pink eye is the most common type we see at our Calgary optometrists’ clinic. There are, in fact, several types of viruses that can cause this type of conjunctivitis. Symptoms associated with such viral infections include:

• Redness
• Itching
• A discharge coming from one or both eyes
• A feeling of there being sand or grit in the eyes
• Heightened sensitivity to light
• Tearing
• Swollen eyelids

A viral pink eye infection may or may not be accompanied by a head cold. Like colds, conjunctivitis can’t be treated by antibiotics, which are only effective against bacteria. The best treatment for viral pink eye is usually to wait it out. Try a warm compress and make sure you avoid touching your eye as much as possible, to prevent the spread of the virus. Viral pink eye is the most contagious type.

2. Bacterial
This type of conjunctivitis is caused by a bacterial infection. Although you may experience some or all of the same symptoms that you would with viral pink eye, with bacterial infections, you’re more likely to develop a yellow or green discharge, which typically hardens into a dry, crusty excretion. Though it often gets better on its own, antibiotics can be used to treat this type of infection. If yours doesn’t go away after a few days, you can make an appointment with our optometrist in Calgary to have a look.

3. Allergic
Allergies can inflame the conjunctiva and mimic the symptoms of an infection, including redness, itching, and excessive tear production. If you’re experiencing allergies, most of the time an antihistamine should help.

If your symptoms don’t go away, or if you have a fever or experience vision problems, it’s time to see a doctor. Give our Calgary optometry centre a call. Crowfoot Vision Centre will be happy to have a look and help your eyes heal, as well as care for all your other occular health needs.

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