Ask an Eye M.D. Answer Archive

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Question:
How can I tell if I have an eye infection or pink eye? My eye started watering last night and now it is slightly swollen and pink. What should I do for it?

Answer:
"Pink eye," otherwise known as "conjunctivitis," is most often a viral infection in adults. Common symptoms include: red eye, watery discharge, crusting of the lids and lashes in the morning. It can be associated with a cold or upper respiratory infection. The infection often involves one eye first, and then the other within a day or two.

Treatment is mostly supportive. Antibiotics do not treat viral infections. It is important to minimize exposure of others by washing your hands frequently and throwing away used tissues. Do not share towels or pillow cases. Consider staying home from work or school until you are symptom-free for 24 hours.

If you are a contact lens wearer, you should discontinue their use and stick with glasses until your infection clears. Then start with a fresh pair of lenses and a clean lens case.

Your Eye M.D. can help you distinguish between different types of red eyes. You should be seen if you develop symptoms in one eye only, if you are a contact lens wearer, or if your symptoms are not typical.

Answered by: Aaron Weingeist, MDDr. Aaron Weingeist

Categories: Eye Conditions; General Eye Health

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Answered: Nov 29, 2010

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