Irving Primary Care

All about pink eye

Pink eye is a common problem these days among 2 million Americans ranging from all ages. It can happen to anyone and it can be treatable. However, like any other health issue, it should not be taken lightly as it can become a nuisance if it is not taken care of properly.


What is pink eye?

In medical terms, we call it conjunctivitis. As you can see in the diagram above, the conjunctiva is a thin layer of a tissue lining underneath the eyelid. It is transparent and it covers the sclera (the white area of an eye). So conjunctivitis is when the conjunctiva is inflamed and the extremely thin and intricate framework of capillaries (blood vessels) are more noticeable, hence the red/pinkish color. Depending on the severity of the situation, a person could feel anywhere from mild itchiness to a lot of pain. Even blinking becomes painful and some people also get a burning sensation.

Pink eye and sty

One thing important to note is the difference between a sty and a pink eye. They are common eye problems but are totally different conditions. A sty is the inflammation of the eyelids due to the eye glands causing the eye to get swollen, painful and pink (from the outside); whereas a pinkeye is the inflammation of the sclera and the eye is pink from the inside.

What causes pink eye?

The main cause of pink eye is a bacterial infection in the conjunctiva but it could also be due to a number of other reasons such as bacteria in the air, allergies or irritants. Here are the 3 types of pink eye problems that people face:


Allergic conjunctivitis—it is caused by different particles in the air or environment that can cause allergies such as pollen, fur of animals or pets at home, dust etc. Makeup and other cosmetics containing irritants, swimming without goggles (due to high chlorine levels), wearing lenses for too long, smoke etc.

Viral conjunctivitis—it is caused by different kinds of viruses that are often associated with flu or colds called adenovirus. This is the reason your eyes are watery and red when you have a bad cold or flu.

Bacterial conjunctivitis—it is the infection of the eyes due to different bacteria that can develop. It could be because of poor hygiene or getting infected by others. Therefore people who have bacterial pink eye are told to not go to work or school as direct contact can cause it to spread. For this type of pink eye, ointments, drops and antibiotics work best.

Your health care provider can determine the cause of the pink eye and give you the proper treatment. For more health tips, advice, or to make an appointment, visit