“Pink eye” is a term people use to describe an infection or irritation of the eye surface and the conjunctiva (the lining of the eyelid and the covering of the white part of the eye). The medical term for pink eye is “conjunctivitis”. Pink eye is often caused by infection with bacteria or a virus such as adenovirus. Other common causes include dry air, allergies, smoke, and chemicals.
When pink eye is caused by an infection, it can spread easily. People catch it from touching something that has been in contact with an infected person’s eye. It can also spread when an infected person touches someone else, and then that person touches their eye. If someone you know has pink eye, avoid touching their pillowcases, towels, or other personal items.
If you have pink eye, your eye (or eyes) might:
Pink eye often gets better on its own in 7 to 14 days. Treatment at home includes:
Pink eye is caused by a bacteria that can be treated with antibiotic eye drops, gel, or ointment.
Pink eye caused by other problems can be treated with over-the-counter eye drops normally used to treat allergies. These drops will not cure pink eye, but they can help with itchiness and irritation.