How to spot pink eye and when to see a doctor

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, doesn’t always require medical treatment and, in most cases, is mild and will clear up on its own.

“The symptoms of pink eye can vary depending on whether it’s caused by a virus, bacteria, allergic reaction or irritants like smog or swimming pool chlorine,” said Jameel Clark, M.D., pediatrician with Norton Children’s Medical Associates – Dixie.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pink eye symptoms usually include:

  • Redness or swelling of the white of the eye or inside the eyelids
  • Increased amount of tears
  • White, yellow or green eye discharge
  • Itchy, irritated and/or burning eyes
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Gritty feeling in the eye
  • Crusting of the eyelids or lashes

In a newborn, a health care provider should look at the pink eye right away. Pink eye in newborns can be very serious if caused by sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea or chlamydia contracted from the mother.

Expectant mothers who suspect they have a sexually transmitted infection should seek testing and treatment.

For older children and adults, the CDC advises seeing a health care provider if the pink eye comes with:

  • Moderate to severe pain in the eye(s)
  • Sensitivity to light or blurred vision
  • Intense redness in the eye(s)
  • A weakened immune system, for example from HIV or cancer treatment
  • Symptoms that get worse or don’t improve, including bacterial pink eye that does not improve after 24 hours of antibiotic use
  • Pre-existing eye conditions that may put you at risk for complications or severe infection

Need a pediatrician?

When you need a doctor for your child, choose one that is backed by over 100 years of medical excellence. With 18 Norton Children’s pediatrician offices in Greater Louisville, we make it easy to find an office near you.

Download this handy reminder on pink-eye prevention from the CDC

pink eye cdc download


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Norton Children's Medical Associates – Dixie

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