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Does Pink Eye Require Urgent Care?

Is your eye irritated and turning pink? Do you have a lot of discharge gumming up your lashes? You may have conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pink eye. Learn when to make an urgent care appointment to take care of this common problem.

What is pink eye?

Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is an infection of the thin, clear tissue that covers the white part of your eye and lines the inside of your eyelids. The eye’s blood vessels become inflamed, turning the white part pink — hence the name — and you may have a lot of discharge.

Depending on what causes the infection, pink eye may be highly contagious. However, it’s usually not serious and is unlikely to damage your vision, especially if you follow your doctor’s instructions and treat it quickly.

At Medinet Family Care Clinic  in Houston and Sugar Land, Texas, Dr. Bharat Gandhi and Dr. Priya Gandhi, as well as the urgent care team, are extremely familiar with pink eye and its manifestations. They’ve put together this informative guide so you’ll recognize the symptoms and know when it’s time to schedule an urgent care appointment to get treatment.

What causes pink eye?

There are three main causes of pink eye:

Viral conjunctivitis

Viral conjunctivitis is the most common type of pink eye, and it’s usually caused by the same virus that triggers the sore throat and runny nose of the common cold. Viral conjunctivitis can affect one or both eyes and it’s highly contagious.

Bacterial conjunctivitis

Bacterial conjunctivitis usually produces gobs of sticky pus in the eye in addition to the pink color of the conjunctiva, though some infections may cause almost no discharge. It’s also not uncommon for the bacterium responsible to be the same one that causes strep throat. Bacterial conjunctivitis is also highly contagious.

Allergic conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious. It’s caused when your eye produces an allergic response to a certain substance, like pollen, animal dander, chlorine, cigarette smoke, and a host of other things. Its main symptom is itchy eyes, but your eyelids may also become puffy and your eyes can burn, tear up, or turn red.

How are viral and bacterial pink eye spread?

The most common ways to spread the viral or bacterial forms of pink eye include:

What are the symptoms of pink eye?

The exact symptoms of pink eye depend on the form you have, but they may include:

In the case of bacterial conjunctivitis, you’ll usually have thick globs of mucus, pus, or a yellow discharge from your eye. The mucus typically crusts over on your eyelashes when you sleep and you may have to pry your eyes open in the morning with a warm, wet washcloth.

When should you go to urgent care for pink eye?

While some cases of pink eye may resolve on their own, we recommend that you schedule an urgent care appointment if you:

Your doctor will treat you accordingly once they diagnose the type of conjunctivitis you have and the severity of your symptoms.

How is pink eye treated?

In the case of viral conjunctivitis, there really is no treatment. You can take over-the-counter painkillers and use a cool washcloth across your eyes, but mostly you have to wait it out.

In the case of bacterial conjunctivitis, your doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops. For allergic conjunctivitis, your doctor may recommend artificial tears, but not the kind that’s used for red eyes. They’re too strong and you don’t want to irritate the eye further.

If you think you might have pink eye and aren’t sure what to do about it, your best bet is to make an urgent care appointment with Medinet Family Care Clinic. You can call us at either of our locations or book online at your convenience.

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