Does one or both of your eyes look red and feel itchy or gritty? Is discharge coming out of one or both eyes? You may have pink eye.

Also known as conjunctivitis, pink eye is a common condition that affects about 6 million people in the United States each year. The condition causes inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the transparent membrane covering your eyelid and the white part of your eye.

Pink eye develops as the result of a bacterial or viral infection of the eye or an allergic reaction. Sometimes babies develop conjunctivitis when a tear duct is not completely open.

Do I Have Pink Eye?

You may have conjunctivitis if you have been in contact with someone who has pink eye. Conjunctivitis caused by bacteria or viruses is highly contagious. The condition can spread to others as soon as symptoms appear, and can remain contagious as long there is discharge from the eyes or until you have been on antibiotics for 24 hours.

You may have pink eye if you are experiencing symptoms of conjunctivitis, which include:

  • Redness in one or both of your eyes
  • Itchiness in one or both of your eyes
  • A gritty sensation in one or both of your eyes
  • A discharge that forms a crust over one or both eyes during the night; this crust may prevent you from opening one or both of your eyes in the morning
  • Tearing

An eye doctor can determine if you have pink eye and the type of treatment you need. While pink eye can be irritating and often unsightly, it rarely affects vision. Treatment can help reduce irritation and discomfort associated with conjunctivitis. Treatment with antibiotics can also reduce the length of time you can spread the disease.