Conjunctivitis, better known as pink eye, is an infection that causes your eyes to become itchy, watery and red. If you have red eyes, you will often close your eyes when you wake up in the morning. What actually happens is that the membrane that covers the surface of your eye becomes inflamed due to infection or irritation.
Just because you have these symptoms does not mean that you have pink eye because your conjunctiva will react to many different things including dust, allergens, bacteria, viruses and other ailments in your body. There are two classifications of pink eye including infectious and non-infectious.
Viral Pink Eyes
This is the most common type of conjunctivitis and is highly contagious. Symptoms associated with this type generally include a clear or white discharge. Your eyelids can be swollen and you’ll be touchy to light.
Often, you will experience other cold-like symptoms such as a stuffy nose, itchy eyes, and a runny nose. This type of pink eye can last as long as two weeks but usually the symptoms are only very bad for a few days. Viral conjunctivitis does not require antibiotics but you should see a doctor anyway because you may have an infected cornea or other injury that needs to be treated immediately.
Bacterial Pink Eyes
With bacterial conjunctivitis, your eyes will become red and will itch or even hurt. They may also swell and have a yellow or green discharge. You may wake up with your eyes closed. This type is also very contagious and you should see a doctor because you will need eye drops to cure it. Your doctor may also give you oral antibiotics if you have other symptoms such as cough, runny nose or stuffy nose as they are most likely caused by the same bacteria.
Non-Infectious Pink Eyes
There are several other things that can cause your conjunctiva to become irritated. Seasonal allergies can cause this and irritation can be reduced by using allergy drops or taking oral allergy medications. Blocked tear ducts are common in newborns up to one year of age. This is a condition that you should consult with your pediatrician as it may require action to correct it.
Finally, foreign objects such as sand or dirt will cause your eye to become red and irritated and may also scratch the surface of your eye, so it is important in this situation to ensure that you remove the material from your eye.