Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

A common condition affecting one or both eyes that causes inflammation of the thin layer of tissue – the conjunctiva – that covers the front of the eye and inner surfaces of the eyelids. You may also recognise it as being called pink eye.

What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis?

  • Pink eyes, bloodshot or puffy appearance
  • A burning or gritty sensation in the eye
  • Itchiness
  • Sticky or crusty eyelashes – you may feel like your eyes are stuck together when you wake up

Symptoms of conjunctivitis or pink eye can present differently, depending on its underlying cause. Usually, the affected eye will look pink or bloodshot and perhaps puffy. You may also experience itchiness or a burning sensation.

Contact your optometrist, GP, ophthalmologist or hospital immediately for appropriate advice if you experience: eye pain, light sensitivity, disturbed vision, or intense eye redness. These symptoms could be a sign of a more serious eye condition.

What causes conjunctivitis?

There are three main causes of pink eye: infection, an allergic reaction, or an irritant.

  • Infection – can be bacterial or viral.
  • Allergic reaction - to pollen, for example. This will more commonly cause itching.
  • Irritant – when your eye comes into contact with an irritating substance, such as shampoo, chlorinated water, or a loose eyelash.

The cause of inflammation will determine the type of symptoms you get and your treatment.

What help is available?

Treatment isn’t always necessary for conjunctivitis, as symptoms will usually improve on their own after a couple of weeks.

Any pink eye treatment will depend on what is causing the condition. You may need to use antibiotic drops to clear the infection, or antihistamines if it is an allergic reaction.

Otherwise, it’s best not to irritate your pink eye further – so avoid wearing contact lenses or eye make-up until your conjunctivitis clears.

Did you know?

Eye tests are bulk billed to Medicare so there are no out of pocket expenses for you.

Frequently asked questions

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