ZocdocAnswersIs this a scratched cornea or pink eye?

Question

Is this a scratched cornea or pink eye?

Hello there, Last night my eye was hurting pretty bad and it started to itch. I didn't think anything of it, because I have a cold right now. My eyes always itch when I have a cold, well this morning I had to pry my eye apart (I have a cold this is sometimes normal), well when I went to go turn on the light, I could not stand it. Now, my eye is watering a lot, not really itching much, but hurts a bit. My eye is still sensitive and everything. I just don't know what it is! I hope it's not pink eye though. I can't afford to go to the doctor now.

Answer

I am sorry to hear that you have been having problems with your eyes, that they are itchy, that you had to pry your eye apart in the morning, that you had photophobia (light sensitivity), and that you are worried about what might be going on. I am happy to give you some of my thoughts about what might be going on, but unfortunately (unfortunate because you mention that you can't afford to go to a doctor right now) I am ultimately going to recommend that you make an appointment to get evaluated by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor). They will be able to take more of a history, and examine you, which will be necessary to determine if you have pink eye (or conjunctivitis) vs a scratch on your cornea. The conjunctiva is the thin mucosal lining that surrounds the outside of your eyeball, and the undersurface of your eyelids. There are different causes for conjunctivitis. For instance it can be viral (meaning a viral infection caused the swelling), bacterial (sometimes as a superinfection from a viral infection) or even chemical. Nonetheless, conjunctivitis involves redness, swelling, and exudates (purulent secretions) from the lining around the eye that can give you a 'pink eye'. The ophthalmologist should be able to examine you and tell you if in fact this is what is going on. Best of luck.

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