Conjunctivitis / Pink Eye
Eye Infections (Conjunctivitis / Pink Eye) in Adults
It's concerning when you wake up in the morning with an eye sealed shut with yellow goo. Getting prompt treatment is important because you may have conjunctivitis ("Pink Eye"), which is an infection of the superficial covering of the eye (conjunctiva). Conjunctivitis can be caused by either a virus or bacteria.
Viral conjunctivitis usually has mild to moderate eye redness, mild white discharge, and symptoms of eye irritation and burning. It can involve one or both eyes and often happens at the same time as an upper respiratory infection or right after. Like a common cold, the treatment is primarily for comfort. Antibiotic eye drops will not help as they do not fight viruses. The infection will improve on its own, usually in 1-2 days, but occasionally it might last up to 1-2 weeks. It is very contagious, and care should be taken to avoid touching the eyes and to keep up with strict hand washing.
Bacterial conjunctivitis has more severe symptoms and increased redness, more eye pain, and a greater amount of yellow or green discharge. As with viral conjunctivitis, it is very contagious and hygiene measures are critically important.
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine which type of conjunctivitis you have, viral or bacterial, even for primary doctors or eye doctors. Unlike viral conjunctivitis, a bacterial pink eye can be treated effectively with antibiotic eye drops. Containing the infection is important and most eye doctors will recommend keeping the individual say home from work and school until their eyes are no longer red and are free of discharge.