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Pink eye (Conjunctivitis)

Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is an inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane (conjunctiva) that lines your eyelid and covers the white part of your eyeball. When small blood vessels in the conjunctiva become inflamed, they’re more visible. This is what causes the whites of your eyes to appear reddish or pink.

Pink eye is commonly caused by a bacterial or viral infection or an allergic reaction. It may affect one or both eyes.

Pink eye can be irritating, but it rarely affects your vision. Treatments can help ease the discomfort of pink eye. Because pink eye can be contagious, early diagnosis and treatment can help limit its spread.

Pink eye may affect one or both eyes. Its signs and symptoms include:

  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • A gritty feeling
  • A discharge that forms a crust during the night that may prevent your eye or eyes from opening in the morning
  • Tearing


When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you notice any signs or symptoms you think might be pink eye. Pink eye can be highly contagious for as long as two weeks after signs and symptoms begin. Early diagnosis and treatment can protect people around you from getting pink eye too.

If you wear contact lenses, stop using them as soon as your symptoms begin. If your eyes don’t get better within 12 to 24 hours, make an appointment with your eye doctor. He or she can check whether you have a more serious eye infection related to contact lens use.

In addition, other serious eye conditions can cause eye redness. Seek urgent care if you also experience pain, light sensitivity or blurred vision.