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Doctor insights on: Difference Between Bacterial Or Viral Pink Eye

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How can you tell the difference between viral pink eye, bacterial pink eye, and allergies?

How can you tell the difference between viral pink eye, bacterial pink eye, and allergies?

Some differences: Generally viral pink eye typically produces redness, watery eyes and doesn't need treatment except for herpes. Bacterial pink eye causes redness & purulent discharge (puss), often "matting the lids/lashes together" in the AM or after a long nap -- needs antibiotic drops. Allergies almost always involve both eyes with redness, some watering, & can be quite itchy. Consult doc if you have it. ...Read more

Dr. Tim Conrad
613 doctors shared insights

Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis) (Definition)

"Pink eye" refers to a viral infection of the conjunctiva. These infections are especially contagious among children. Newborns can be infected by bacteria in the birth canal. This condition is called ophthalmia neonatorum, and it must be treated immediately to preserve eyesight. "Pink eye" refers to a viral infection of the conjunctiva. These infections are especially contagious among children. Newborns can be infected by bacteria in the birth canal. This condition is called ophthalmia neonatorum, and it must be treated immediately to preserve eyesight. ...Read more


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What type of pink eye do I have? Viral or bacterial, but how do you tell the difference?

What type of pink eye do I have? Viral or bacterial, but how do you tell the difference?

Viral: Traditionally "pink eye" is a viral infection and it is highly contagious. You should wash your hands frequently and use a hand sanitizer. You can be contagious for 10-14 days after contracting the virus and can reinfect yourself if you are not careful. Viral infections usually produce "watery" discharge whereas a bacterial infection produces "pus". See your eye doctor for the diagnosis. ...Read more

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How can I tell if I have viral or bacterial pink eye?

How can I tell if I have viral or bacterial pink eye?

Symptoms: In adults without a history of surgery or trauma, by far the most common infections are viral causing redness, itching, clear-sticky discharge and commonly are bilateral. Bacterial infectious is more flagrant, frequently drops the vision, has pus and much swelling, and commonly is painful. Your ophthalmologist can sort this out for you. ...Read more

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How avoid 100% or almost pink eye(viral and bacterial)?

How avoid 100% or almost pink eye(viral and bacterial)?

No immunity: Careful hygiene, hand washing and avoid infected contacts. No proven way to prevent it. ...Read more

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I think my 2.5 year old has pink eye. Some green discharge, not much redness at all. How do symptoms between viral and bacterial pink eye differ?

I think my 2.5 year old has pink eye.   Some green discharge,  not much redness at all.  How do symptoms between viral and bacterial pink eye differ?

Conjunctivitis: Bacterial conjunctivitis is typically unilateral, one eye, but can be bilateral. There is usually a very significant colored discharge. Viral conjunctivitis is typically a clear, mucousy, discharge, and usually is, or becomes bilateral. And is contagious. Both should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist for proper treatment, which is not the same. ...Read more

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Doctor, my vision has been blurry for quite a while now. Before this I had pink eye and Im not sure if it was bacterial or viral. My eyes are not red?

Doctor, my vision has been blurry for quite a while now. Before this I had pink eye and Im not sure if it was bacterial or viral. My eyes are not red?

Blurry vision: Blurry vision that develops during the day can be caused by dry eyes (keratoconjunctivitis sicca), allergies and medications, to name a few. Lubricating drops or allergy drops that are preservative free can be used for relief. Changes in vision should prompt a visit to an optometrist for evaluation sooner rather than later. ...Read more

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I had pink eye and now the top eye lid of my eye is swollen, red, and tender? Viral? Bacterial?

I had pink eye and now the top eye lid of my eye is swollen, red, and tender?  Viral?  Bacterial?

Blocked Duct: After any eye infection (allergic, viral, etc) it is not uncommon to see blocked ducts that are located in the eyelid around the eyelashes. This can create what many call a stye but is likely a chalazion or hordeolum. Either way, warm compresses and gentle massage can relieve the clogged duct. You may need antibiotic eye drops if the clogged duct gets infected. For now try the compresses and see. ...Read more

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Post nasal drip nausea for two days.Just woke up with bad pink eye both eyes. Bacterial or viral way to tell? I am 6wk pregnantavoid antib if i can

Post nasal drip nausea for two days.Just woke up with bad pink eye both eyes. Bacterial or viral way to tell? I am 6wk pregnantavoid antib if i can

Conjunctivitis: Your eye symptoms sound more typical of viral conjunctivitis. This will usually resolve in 5-7 days on its own. Antibiotic drops don't help viral infections. If you start to experience vision loss, pain or significant light sensitivity, then you should see your eye physician. ...Read more

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What's the difference between viral conjunctivitis and pink eye?

What's the difference between viral conjunctivitis and pink eye?

Usually the same: Most "pink eye" is caused by viral conjunctivitis, in which case they're the same. However, a bacterial conjunctivitis, though less common, could cause the same symptoms and be referred to as pink eye, and there are other conditions that can make the eye look red. ...Read more

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What's the difference between pink eye and herpes viral infection of the eye? Can you get either one from herpes simplex on the lips?

Different virus: Although the term "pink eye" is somewhat vague, it typically refers to an infection caused by adenovirus, is quite common, and highly contagious. Herpes simplex is also a virus which can cause an eye infection, is much less common, and can potentially be much more serious. You will need to see your eye md to distinguish the two. ...Read more

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My eye has been having clear discharge and some yellow, with crusting for a day and a half, how do I know if it is bacterial or viral conjunctivitis?

Treatments vary: The symptoms can vary from allergic conjunctivitis to as you state, bacterial or viral conjunctivitis. Usually on slit lamp (microscopy) exam in the office the conjunctival surface and cornea can give us clues. If you have no pain or vision loss, you may want to try an otc allergy drop for a day, since it's sunday. If not better by the monday am, then see your provider in the morning. ...Read more

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Did I get diagnosed wrong? I have pink eye with bright green snot coming out of my eyes constantly, and they are treating it as if its viral and not b

Did I get diagnosed wrong? I have pink eye with bright green snot coming out of my eyes constantly, and they are treating it as if its viral and not b

Second opinion: If you are not confident in the initial diagnosis, get a second opinion. A virus is the most common cause of conjunctivitis by far. And for that, no antibiotics are needed. Discharge is normally milky/watery. If you experienece any decrease in vision, definitely get evaluated by an eye doc. Take care. ...Read more

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How long does the pink eye bacteria live?

How long does the pink eye bacteria live?

Pink eye: Most pink eyes are caused by viruses with a lifespan of 3 to 10 days. Bacterial infections in adults usually follow trauma and surgery. If bacterial, the infection usually can be overcome in 3-6 days with antibiotic therapy. If present beyond this time, revisit your ophthalmologist to assess. ...Read more

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What would you suggest I do to cure a bacterial pink eye at home?

What would you suggest I do to cure a bacterial pink eye at home?

Tea bags: Damp tea bags of flower teas like chamomile, and even black tea bags, can treat the surface of the eyes naturally and with little risk. Avoid plain water, but rather, use saline or eye wash to rinse your eyes, bacterial conjunctivitis is not nearly as contagious as viral conjunctivitis. Antibiotic drops are the preferred medical treatment for bacterial conjunctivitis. ...Read more

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Can there be really no cure for viral pink eye?

Not usuaually.: Only for herpes virus. The adenovirus must run its course. ...Read more

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I have pink eye and i know it's viral. What can I do at home to get rid of it?

I have pink eye and i know it's viral. What can I do at home to get rid of it?

Depends: Most "pinkeye" or conjunctivitis is actually viral, so antibiotic eye drops are usually not effective. Viral conjunctivitis tends to run it's course in 7-10 days. It can be very contagious, spreading from one eye to the other or to other people. Hand washing is essential. To be certain it is not a more serious bacterial or fungal infection, you should see an ophthalmologist. ...Read more

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I was diagnosed with viral pink eye. It seemed like it was getting better ( less tearing, less red, less itching). But now it seems like the itching a?

I was diagnosed with viral pink eye. It seemed like it was getting better ( less tearing, less red, less itching). But now it seems like the itching a?

Alllergic: Both viral and allergic conjunctivitis have similar symptoms except itch happens with allergic conjunctivitis. The viral one is contagious and correlates with the a upper respiratory viral infection during or after recovery. Artificial tears and Cold compressors help with the symptoms. ...Read more

Dr. Jon Fishburn
751 doctors shared insights

Conjunctivitis (Definition)

An inflammation of the thin mucous membrane that lines the front surface of the eyeball and the inside of the eyelids. As the inflammation increases, it causes tiny blood vessels to dilate, thus leading to a ...Read more


Bacteria (Definition)

Are omnipresent single celled organisms which are the both the simplest form of life and the original form of life on earth. The are ...Read more