Pink Eye

Help protect yourself from getting and spreading Pink Eye (conjunctivitis)

Pink eye is extremely common.

Public school kids in the U.S. miss 3 million school days each year as a result of pink eye.

Pink eye is often highly contagious.

It can be caused by

  • Viruses (very contagious)
  • Bacteria (very contagious)
  • Allergens, like pollen (not contagious)
  • Irritants, like smoke or dust (not contagious)

Symptoms usually include:

  • Redness or swelling
  • Watery eyes
  • A gritty feel
  • Itchiness, irritation, or burning
  • Discharge
  • Crusting of the eyelids or lashes

See a doctor if you have pink eye along with any of the following:

  • Eye pain
  • Sensitivity to light or blurred vision
  • Intense eye redness
  • Symptoms that get worse or don’t improve
  • A weakened immune system, for example from HIV or cancer treatment
  • Pre-existing eye conditions

A doctor can usually diagnose the cause of pink eye based on symptoms and patient history.

Newborns with symptoms of pink eye should see a doctor right away.

Protect yourself and others from pink eye

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, and help young children do the same. Wash hands especially well after touching someone with pink eye or their personal items.
  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes. This can worsen the condition or spread it to your other eye.
  • Avoid sharing personal items, such as makeup, eye drops, towels, bedding, contact lenses and containers, and eyeglasses.
  • Do not use the same eye products for your infected and non-infected eyes.
  • Stop wearing contact lenses until your eye doctor says it’s okay.

Students diagnosed with pink eye should remain out of school until they have received 24 hours of appropriate antibiotics, or have been approved by a healthcare provider to return. Students should not return to school with purulent drainage.

The best way to prevent transmission is through good hand washing.