What causes Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)?

Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is a common eye condition caused by inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin, transparent tissue covering the front and inner surface of the eyelids. It affects people of all ages and can be caused by viral and bacterial infections, allergies, and irritants. Inflamed conjunctiva can cause discomfort symptoms like redness, itching, a gritty sensation, excessive tearing, and discharge. Pink eye is highly contagious, so proper diagnosis and management are crucial to preventing its spread.


There are several potential causes for pink eye, including:

  • Viral Infections
  • Bacterial Infections
  • Allergies
  • Irritants (smoke, chlorine from swimming pools, cosmetics, etc)
  • Foreign Objects
  • Contact Lenses
  • Newborns may develop neonatal conjunctivitis due to bacterial infection.
  • Autoimmune Disorders
  • Dry and windy environments


Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, can manifest with a range of symptoms that vary depending on the underlying cause of the condition. Here are the common symptoms associated with different types of conjunctivitis:

  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Watery Eyes
  • Mucus / Pus Discharge
  • Swelling
  • Blurry Vision
  • Eye Discomfort / Pain

Conjunctivitis symptoms vary in intensity and duration, with viral and bacterial conjunctivitis being contagious and easily transmitted. Anti-allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious and is triggered by an allergic reaction. Seeking healthcare professional guidance is recommended for proper diagnosis and management.


The treatment for pink eye, or conjunctivitis, depends on the underlying cause of the condition. Here are the general approaches for treating different types of conjunctivitis:

Viral Conjunctivitis:

  • Viral conjunctivitis is often self-limiting and tends to improve on its own within one to two weeks.
  • Cold compresses or artificial tears can help alleviate discomfort and reduce redness.
  • Over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops may provide relief from itching and irritation.
  • Practicing good hygiene, such as avoiding touching the eyes and frequent handwashing, helps prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Avoidance of contact with others while contagious is important to prevent transmission.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis:

  • Bacterial conjunctivitis may require antibiotic eye drops or ointments to effectively treat the infection.
  • Warm compresses can help soothe the eye and reduce discomfort.
  • To prevent the spread of infection, avoid touching the affected eye, wash hands frequently, and refrain from sharing personal items like towels and makeup.
  • Complete the full course of prescribed antibiotics even if symptoms improve before finishing the medication.

Allergic Conjunctivitis:

  • Avoiding allergens that trigger the allergic reaction is key to managing allergic conjunctivitis.
  • Over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops can help alleviate itching and redness.
  • Cold compresses can provide relief from inflammation and discomfort.
  • In more severe cases, an eye care professional may recommend medications such as corticosteroid eye drops.

In all cases of conjunctivitis:

  • Avoid rubbing the eyes, as this can exacerbate the irritation.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Do not share towels, makeup, or eye drops with others
  • Stay home from work or school until your symptoms have improved.
  • Contact lenses should not be worn until the symptoms have resolved.
  • Consultation with an eye care professional is recommended for proper diagnosis and treatment, especially if the symptoms are severe, and persistent, or if there’s uncertain about the cause of the condition.

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of conjunctivitis, especially if they are severe, persistent, or worsening, seeking medical advice is recommended. An eye care professional can determine the exact cause of the symptoms and provide appropriate guidance on treatment and preventive measures. For more information or inquiry, please call +91 98254 45403/09 or email: info@saraswatihospitals.com.

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