The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released prevention, diagnosis, and treatment tips for pink eye.

Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva that makes blood vessels more visible and gives the eye a pink or reddish color.

There are 4 main causes of pink eye, which include:

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  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Allergens
  • Irritants (such as swimming pool chlorine)

Symptoms of pink eye may vary, but most cases include:

  • Redness or swelling of the white of the eye or inside the eyelids
  • Increased amount of tears
  • Eye discharge, which may be clear, yellow, white, or green
  • Itchy, irritated, and/or burning eyes
  • Gritty feeling in the eye
  • Crusting of the eyelids or lashes
  • Contact lenses that feel uncomfortable and/or do not stay in place on the eye

Pink eye caused by a virus or bacteria is very contagious and will spread easily from person to person. Pink eye that is caused by allergens or irritants is not contagious, but it is possible to develop a secondary infection caused by a virus or bacteria that is contagious. The risk of getting or spreading pink eye can be reduced by following some simple self-care steps:

  • Wash your hands
  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes
  • Avoid sharing makeup, contact lenses and containers, and eyeglasses

According to the CDC, most cases of pink eye get better on their own without necessary treatment from a clinician. However, patients should see a clinician with cases of:

  • Moderate to severe pain
  • Sensitivity to light or blurred vision
  • Intense redness in the eye(s)
  • A weakened immune system, for example, from HIV or cancer treatment
  • Symptoms that get worse or do not improve, including bacterial pink eye that does not improve after 24 hours of antibiotic use
  • Pre-existing eye conditions that may put you at risk for complications or severe infection

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Pink Eye: Usually Mild and Easy to Treat. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. March 19, 2018. Accessible at: