Pink Eye vs Dry Eye Comparing Causes Symptoms and Treatment

Updated on December 13, 2021

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Are your eyes itchy and red, and you have no idea what it could be?

Many people get confused between pink eye vs dry eye. It’s not that surprising because they give your eyes the same itchy and dry feeling. These eye conditions also have similar causes and can be quite common to experience.

While they have similarities, pink and dry eye require different treatments. If you want to get rid of the discomfort, it’s best to identify first what condition you have. Read on to discover their causes, symptoms, and treatment.

Pink Eye vs Dry Eye: On Causes and Symptoms

When it comes to the causes and symptoms, pink eye and dry eye syndrome have some things in common. The usual causes of both eye diseases are allergy, irritants, and bacteria. To further understand pink eye and dry eye, here are their causes and symptoms.

Dry Eye

Dry eye disease is a common illness that happens when your tears can’t give enough lubrication to your eyes. It’s also the chronic condition of the lack of eye hydration that can be a result of a couple of factors.

One of the major causes of dry eye disease is when tears become inadequate and unstable. Most of the reasons for this are that you either can’t produce many tears or you have poor tear quality. The insufficiency then leads to inflammation and damages to the surface of your eyes.

Dry eyes are also caused by irritants like heat, air-condition, and dry, windy weather. Older adults and people with health conditions like hormonal imbalance also tend to experience dry eyes. There are also instances where too much screen time can cause dry eyes.

You’ll know it’s a dry eye disease when you start experiencing these symptoms.

  • Eye discomforts, like burning or itchiness
  • Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Eye redness
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses

Having watery eyes is also a symptom. This happens because it’s the body’s response to eye irritation. You can also experience blurry vision or eye fatigue.

Pink Eye

Pink eye or Conjunctivitis is one of the most common causes of red-eye. While red-eye is the general or non-clinical term for this eye condition, pink eye is the relative medical term. This happens when the lining covering of your eyeball and eyelid becomes inflamed.

Some of the causes of pink eye are allergies, bacteria, and viruses. When it comes to viruses, the common flu virus can cause not only colds and flu, but a bad case of pink eye, too. A viral pink eye is more contagious but still the most common.

Apart from that, people with chronic allergies can also experience long-term Conjunctivitis. Dry eyes can also cause pink eye due to the lack or poor quality of tears. Using contact lenses for an extended period will also result in this eye condition.

Pink eye symptoms often include the following.

  • Blurry vision
  • Eye pain
  • Red and itchy eye
  • Sensitivity to light

Mucus discharge or crusts forming on your eyelids overnight also happens when you have bacterial Conjunctivitis.

Treating Pink Eye and Dry Eye

Dry eye disease and pink eye go away by themselves in a week or so. But there are other cases that you’ll need to have your eyes treated to get better.

Dry Eye

There are various treatment options when you’re suffering from dry eyes. How you will treat your eye disease will depend on the cause and the severity of your dry eye. Here are some of the treatments you can consider.

Artificial Tears

Artificial tears are one of the over-the-counter treatments you can get without a prescription. They’re quick to access and can act like natural tears.

But keep in mind to check if you have any preservative sensitivity. When you do have sensitive eyes, it’s best that you avail of preservative-free artificial tears.

Eye Drops and Medications

When you’re experiencing a moderate to severe case of dry eyes, the most common treatments you’ll use are eye drops and medications. Prescribed drops and drugs help relieve the redness, itchiness, and pain from dry eyes. In worst cases, you may need to get eye surgery.

Pink Eye

Like dry eyes, pink eye treatment depends on the cause of your Conjunctivitis. But in some cases, the pink eye goes away by itself within a week.

For Allergic Conjunctivitis

If you’re experiencing pink eye due to allergies, it will go away when you get your allergies treated. Sometimes, allergic pink eyes get better when you avoid any contact with your allergy triggers.

To soothe allergic Conjunctivitis, you can put on cool compresses on your eyes. This will help relieve the burning and itching pain from the pink eye. Your doctor can also prescribe you antihistamines that’ll help keep your allergies in check.

In more severe cases, your ophthalmologist can prescribe steroid eye drops.

For Bacterial And Viral Conjunctivitis

Antibiotic medications are often the most common treatment for bacterial pinkeye. While most patients opt for oral antibiotic drugs, some prefer antibiotic eye drops. But before availing, make sure to consult with your doctor with regards to which will be the best meds to use.

You can also apply warm compresses to clear out the mucus discharge on your eyelids. Press the clean cloth soaked in warm water on your eyes and let it stay for a few minutes.

Viral Conjunctivitis will go away by itself even without antibiotics. Although you can use mild steroid eye drops to help with the eye discomfort.

For Dry Eyes

One of the things that can help you with pink eye that comes from dry eyes is artificial tears. You can also get eye drops and other prescribed drugs for discomfort and pain.

Pink Eye vs Dry Eye: Knowing How to Differentiate the Two

Although there’s still a large confusion on the topic of pink eye vs dry eye, it’s best to remember that they’re two different eye diseases. Both conditions should get proper treatment, and patients who suffer from this must get a proper diagnosis.

It’s also a good idea to keep a healthy lifestyle, maintain proper hygiene and make regular eye checkups.

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