Facebook Pixel

Pink Eye and Blepharitis – What's the Difference?

Rate This
pink eye Via Pexels

Eye infections and inflammation can seriously impact our quality of life, even when they have low clinical significance. Pink eye, also called conjunctivitis, is very common. The conjunctiva is a thin, transparent membrane that covers the insides of both upper and lower eyelids, plus the whites of the eyes. It provides a smooth, protective layer that makes blinking and eye movements comfortable – or at least, that's what it does when it's healthy. This membrane can become inflamed with viral or bacterial infection, or from allergies. Conjunctivitis generally feels like sand in the eyes, with redness, tearing, discharge, and general discomfort. Itching may be the primary symptom if the cause is allergies.

There are different types of eye drops used to treat conjunctivitis, depending on the cause. Some cases are due to the herpes simplex virus, which also causes cold sores. Anti-viral eye drops are available for this possibility. If the infection is bacterial, then antibiotic eye drops or ointment may be prescribed. Anti-allergy and steroid eye drops can be used to treat allergic conjunctivitis.

The vast majority of pink eye cases will clear up by themselves. But you should call your eye doctor if you have any of the following:
1. Loss of vision
2. Eye pain
3. Drainage
4. Symptoms that fail to improve within 1 – 2 weeks
5. Worsening of symptoms after an initial doctor's visit.

Blepharitis is a bit different; it is an inflammation of the margins of the eyelids, at the roots of the eyelashes. It feels similar to pink eye, but it may include crusting around the eyelashes. It is generally caused by bacterial infection, abnormal oil gland secretions, or a combination. You should call your doctor immediately if you have loss of vision, eye discharge, or severe symptoms. For mild cases, lid hygiene may be sufficient:
1. Use a warm compress twice daily for at least 5 minutes at a time. You can use a clean washcloth wet with warm water; wring out the excess water and hold the cloth on your eyelids with eyes closed.
2. After the warm compress treatment, put a drop of tear-free baby shampoo on the wash cloth.

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Pink Eye

Get Email Updates

Pink Eye Guide

HERWriter Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!