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Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis) (cont.)

What Other Conditions Mimic Pinkeye?

An eye can become pink or red because of irritation (for example from chemical exposure or a foreign body) or from an abrasion (scratch) of the eye's surface. Dry eye is another common cause of eye redness. Overuse of decongestant eye drops can produce rebound redness when the decongestant effect wears off. Less common but potentially more serious causes of red eyes include uveitis (inflammation inside the eye, sometimes related to autoimmune disorders), elevated eye pressure (glaucoma), compromised blood supply to the eye (ischemia), and others. A small blood vessel in the conjunctiva can also leak blood that becomes trapped under the conjunctiva. These red "subconjunctival hemorrhages" are sometimes confused with conjunctivitis. They can be associated with trauma, high blood pressure, or blood thinners. They are typically painless and clear up on their own.

How Long Does Pinkeye Last?

A typical viral conjunctivitis begins in one eye and spreads to the other eye within a week. It usually takes approximately five to 10 days to resolve. Bacterial conjunctivitis usually requires treatment with antibiotics. The time it takes to resolve varies depending on the organism. Allergic conjunctivitis typically lasts throughout the allergy season but can be managed with allergy medications.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/12/2017

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