11 doctors weighed in:

How can you tell the difference between types of pink eye?

11 doctors weighed in
Dr. William Becker
Ophthalmology
6 doctors agree

In brief: You can't, we might

This can be very tricky.
From our side, you may have other symptoms or findings on exam that give us clues-lymph nodes, etc. From your side, were there exposures to allergens or other people with pink eye? But they can look very similar. Best to assume it is contagious.

In brief: You can't, we might

This can be very tricky.
From our side, you may have other symptoms or findings on exam that give us clues-lymph nodes, etc. From your side, were there exposures to allergens or other people with pink eye? But they can look very similar. Best to assume it is contagious.
Dr. William Becker
Dr. William Becker
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1 comment
Dr. Michael P Vaughn
Only rarely does inflammation from airborne allergy develop only in one eye first. If only one eye is affected, then think of infection as a more likely cause. Occasionally, someone can touch an allergen such as cat dander and then rub it into only one eye.
Dr. Andrew Shatz
Ophthalmology
2 doctors agree

In brief: It is difficult

Pink eye is a term that eye doctors use to describe viral conjunctivitis.
Eyes can be "pink" from any cause of conjunctivitis, such as allergies, certain inflammations, and other infections. Although there are specific things we look for, they often can only be seen with a slit lamp microscope. We also take into account the timing, severity and other findings to figure out the cause.

In brief: It is difficult

Pink eye is a term that eye doctors use to describe viral conjunctivitis.
Eyes can be "pink" from any cause of conjunctivitis, such as allergies, certain inflammations, and other infections. Although there are specific things we look for, they often can only be seen with a slit lamp microscope. We also take into account the timing, severity and other findings to figure out the cause.
Dr. Andrew Shatz
Dr. Andrew Shatz
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