Conjunctivitis and Pink Eye - is it allergies, viral, or bacterial?

By Canada Cloud Pharmacy | Published Tuesday 19 May 2020

You have probably heard the term “pink eye” or “conjunctivitis” but what exactly is it? 

The three most common types of conjunctivitis are: allergic, bacterial and viral conjunctivitis. What you may not know is that different types of conjunctivitis require different types of treatment and sometimes the wrong treatment can make things worse. We hope this article helps you to recognize the symptoms and understand what treatment your healthcare provider might offer you.

Allergic conjunctivitis is the most common type of conjunctivitis. You’ll recognize this condition by the red, itchy, and watery eyes. It most often shows up in both eyes at the same time. The treatment is very straightforward - a few drops of Pazeo or Bepreve (a dual action eye drop) will take care of the symptoms for a whole day. (You can learn more about allergic conjunctivitis here). 

Bacterial conjunctivitis is the most common type of infectious conjunctivitis that a family doctor or your eye care professional will see. You will recognize this condition by the red, painful and  mucousy eyes. Bacterial conjunctivitis will start in one eye and within a few days, transfer to the other eye. The treatment will vary depending on the severity and usually involves an antibiotic like tobramycin, ciprofloxacin or moxifloxacin and sometimes accompanied by a steroid to ease the discomfort like FML , Lotemax or Tobradex. Please follow your prescription and take the medication for the full prescribed duration. 

Viral conjunctivitis is tricky to diagnose and treat. You will recognize this condition by the red, painful, and watery eyes. Just like your common flu there is no treatment for a viral infection. However, there are a few things you can do to make your eyes feel a little more comfortable. Artificial tears will be your first choice (Systane / Hylo, etc) but sometimes if the viral conjunctivitis is really bad, your doctor / eye doctor may prescribe a mild steroid drop to help manage the symptoms. ***note: DO NOT use steroid drops without first consulting with a medical professional***

To help identify the different types of conjunctivitis (pink eye) we have made a simple chart. Please do not use this chart for diagnosis and still do go see your family doctor / eye doctor for an evaluation.
 

Symptoms

Allergy

Bacterial

Viral

Redness

Yes

Yes

Yes

Itch

Yes

No

No

Pain

No

Yes

Yes

Mucous Discharge

No

Yes

No

Watery Discharge 

Yes

No

Yes

Both eyes at the same time

Yes

One, then the other

One, then the other

 

 

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