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Sore Eyes Causes and Treatment

Medically reviewed by Victor Paulino, MD, DPBO · Ophthalmology · Makati Medical Center

Written by Kip Soliva · Updated Dec 29, 2020

    Sore Eyes Causes and Treatment

    Have you noticed your eyes feeling itchy and looking red? Then there might be a chance that you have conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye or sore eyes. Take a look at this article to learn about sore eyes causes and treatment.

    Eye Redness Causes and Treatment

    What is Pink Eye?

    An infection or inflammation of the transparent membrane that covers the whites of the eyeball and lines the eyelid is called pink eye, or conjunctivitis. When your small blood vessels get inflamed, the whites of the eyes look pink or reddish. 

    Viral or bacterial infection and an allergic reaction are the typical causes of conjunctivitis. However, an incompletely opened tear duct can also cause conjunctivitis in babies.

    Conjunctivitis can feel irritating, but it may not always affect your vision. However, it is contagious, so knowing sore eyes causes and treatment can be helpful to you.

    Symptoms of Sore Eyes

    One of the most common symptoms of sore eyes is one or both eyes being pink or reddish. Green, yellow, or white discharge may also come out of your eyes. 

    Burning or itchiness in one or both eyes is also another common symptom. Additionally, you may experience a gritty feeling in your eyes. Many people may also experience watery eyes when they have conjunctivitis.

    However, sore eyes could also cause some more uncomfortable symptoms. Some of those symptoms can include a lump in the front of your ear, light sensitivity, blurry vision, and swollen eyelids.

    Sore Eyes Causes and Treatment

    A doctor can diagnose whether your sore eyes were caused by an allergen, bacterium, or a virus. A doctor would base their diagnosis on an examination of the eye, along with the patient’s symptoms and history. However, it could still be hard to figure out the cause because symptoms can be the same even if the causes are different. 

    To properly diagnose and determine cause, your doctor may recommend a laboratory test. They may take a sample of your eye discharge from your infected eye to determine your type of infection and how to treat it. 

    In viral conjunctivitis,  the discharge from your eye may be watery. Additionally, this type of pink eye often accompanies a respiratory tract infection or a cold. 

    In bacterial conjunctivitis, you may experience sore eyes with an ear infection. Additionally, the discharge from your eye may be thick.

    In allergic conjunctivitis, you may experience pink eye seasonally. You may have intensely itchy eyes and have other symptoms of allergies, such as eczema, asthma, hay fever, etc.

    Neonatal conjunctivitis is a severe type of conjunctivitis that affects newborns and is caused by dangerous bacteria.

    Giant papillary conjunctivitis can be caused by the long-term use of an artificial eye or contact lens

    Overall Eye Health: All You Need to Know

    Treating Sore Eyes

    Symptom relief

    Symptom relief is usually the main focus of pink eye treatment. A doctor may suggest applying warm or cold compresses a few times a day, using a wet cloth to clean your eyelids, and using artificial tears. 

    Contact lens care

    You may also be told by your doctor to stop wearing contact lenses until you are done with your treatment. If you have disposable contact lenses, your doctor may suggest disposing of them.

    If you have hard contact lenses, disinfect them overnight before using them again. It would be wise to ask your doctor if you should replace any contact lens accessories, especially if you had used them while you had pink eye. Throwing out any eye makeup that you used before getting pink eye would also be ideal.

    Antibiotics and antiviral medications

    For most pink eye cases, especially if it is viral, you may not need antibiotics and you may have to wait 2-3 weeks for it to pass. However, if your doctor thinks you got pink eye because of the herpes simplex virus, they may recommend antiviral medications.

    Medicated eye drops

    Your doctor may suggest that you take several kinds of eye drops if you have allergic conjunctivitis. The medications are meant to control allergic reactions, and those can include mast cell stabilizers, antihistamines, etc.

    Your doctor may also prescribe drugs to help control inflammation. Some of those may include anti-inflammatory drops, steroids, decongestants, etc. Additionally, avoiding what you are allergic to may help relieve your symptoms.

    How Can I Prevent Spreading Pink Eye?

    As mentioned earlier, bacterial and viral conjunctivitis is contagious. If a doctor diagnoses you with pink eye, it’s important to learn how to avoid infecting others or reinfecting yourself.

    • Use water and soap to wash your hands often. If not, you can use sanitizer that has alcohol to sanitize your hands, especially if you have touched your eyes.
    • Do not share items that have come into contact with your eyes with other people. Some examples may include eye makeup, pillowcases, glasses, towels, etc. Additionally, you may want to change your pillowcases daily.

    Key Takeaways

    While pink eye can be highly contagious, it can easily be treated and managed. Consult your doctor to determine the exact sore eyes causes and treatment.  

    Learn more about Eye Health here. 


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Victor Paulino, MD, DPBO

    Ophthalmology · Makati Medical Center

    Written by Kip Soliva · Updated Dec 29, 2020

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