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"Do I have pink eye, or just a irritation?"

ZocdocAnswersDo I have pink eye, or just a irritation?


I am at the end of a cold/flu (not sure exactly what it was) and one of my eyes is red. Last night I had a small amount of discharge, not alot. Today it hasn't had any discharge at all. it doesn't hurt or itch, just feels dry. Is this pink eye, or is my eye just irritated from being sick? Also, I have Eye drops for Pink eye. Its Ciprofloxacin Hydrochloride Ophthalmic solution. Can I use these as a precaution, or is it not a good idea to use them unless I am certain?


Thanks for your question. While it is not common knowledge, what we often refer to as pink eye (or conjunctivitis, as it is known to doctors) is most often a virus that is another manifestation of the common cold. More exactly, when certain strains of infection attack the upper respiratory tract, they can manifest with symptoms of red, itchy, eyes in addition to the more common things that we expect from URIs (red noses, runny noses, coughing, etc). That's why red eyes are so common, even among adults. Of course there are other potential causes, such as bacteria and allergies, and also trauma (like sun or windburn) as well. For most people, however, the common cold or other strains of URI are the most common cause of these red eyes. As you can imagine, antibiotic eye drops are not very effective against a virus. That is just one of the reasons that you should speak with a doctor before starting any therapy that requires a prescription, or any new treatment for that matter. Please speak with your doctor about this question.

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