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A 23-year-old member asked:

Can you tell me the difference between the symptoms of pink eye and those of eye allergies?

3 doctor answers6 doctors weighed in
Dr. Robert Chang
Specializes in Ophthalmology
Itchy: Can't always tell the difference based on symptoms, but sometimes pink eye starts in one eye first and then spreads to the other eye. Both are usually red and watery, but infections can cause more of a purulent discharge. Allergies usually have more of a itching component and can have other seasonal allergy symptoms outside of the eye.
Dr. Gary Wortz
Ophthalmology 17 years experience
Discharge matters: Allergic conjunctivitis causes severe itchiness and tearing with little discharge. Viral "pink eye" is characterized by mucous or thicker discharge, mattering of the eyelashes especially in the morning and a generalized sense of eye discomfort rather than a primarily itchy feeling.
Dr. Beth Friedland
Ophthalmology 42 years experience
Itch: Allergic conjuctivitis causes itchingb but pink eye typically does not.

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Similar questions

A 35-year-old member asked:

Pink eye or allergies, how can I tell the difference?

1 doctor answer1 doctor weighed in
Dr. Tim Conrad
Ophthalmology 34 years experience
Sometimes difficult: This is sometimes difficult even for experts. Generally allergies have more itching than pink eye and occur in people have allergic symptoms such as coughing, sneezing and so forth. You can try over-the-counter antihistamine drops such as zaditor (ketotifen). If this does not help, see an ophthalmologist.
A 31-year-old member asked:

How are the symptoms of pink eye and those of eye allergies distinguished from each other?

1 doctor answer2 doctors weighed in
Dr. Keshav Narain
Retinal Surgery 29 years experience
Similar: Both can have similar symptoms. Ophthalmologists often look for the presence of inflammed lymph nodes for conjunctivitis. Allergy follows a different pattern in terms of symptoms and can cause much more itching. Both can create watery irritated eyes. Your local eye specialist can help.
A 44-year-old member asked:

What is the difference between allergies and pink eye?

1 doctor answer1 doctor weighed in
Dr. Lily Hwang
Pediatric Allergy and Asthma 18 years experience
Both eyes vs 1 eye: Not a hard fast rule but usually allergies affect both eyes at the same time and is intensely itchy. Viral or bacterial conjunctivitis usually affects one eye first and not that itchy. An infected eye also may produce mucous or pus like secretions.

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Last updated Nov 27, 2017

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