Pink Eye Treatment Online

Pink eye or conjunctivitis is a common eye infection, which can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection or from an allergic reaction.

Pink Eye

Pink eye symptoms can vary, but patients typically experience:

  • Redness around the eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased tear production
  • A thick, yellow discharge
  • Itching or burning sensation
  • And more.

Diagnosing and Treating Pink Eye Online

Pink eye is one of the most common conditions doctors on Amwell treat. Pink eye occurs when microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses, get into your eye and cause inflammation. There are three main types of pink eye:

  • Infectious conjunctivitis
  • Allergic conjunctivitis
  • Chemical conjunctivitis

Infectious conjunctivitis is the only type of pink eye that is contagious, although, there are many types of infectious conjunctivitis including:

  • Bacterial conjunctivitis
  • Viral conjunctivitis
  • Neonatal conjunctivitis
  • Herpes simplex conjunctivitis
  • Epidemic keratoconjunctivitis

While there are many types of pink eye, bacterial conjunctivitis and viral conjunctivitis are the most common. Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria that infects the eye. The bacteria can be spread through contact with an infected individual, exposure to contaminated surfaces or other illnesses, such as sinus or ear infections. Viral conjunctivitis is an airborne virus that is highly contagious and can be spread through sneezing and coughing. Viral conjunctivitis also can accompany common viral upper respiratory infections such as measles, the flu or the common cold. (see FAQ's below for descriptions about other types of pink eye)

Our platform has an image upload feature that is extremely helpful for both providers and patients. With this feature, our physicians can get a precise, detailed look at your pink eye before the visit even begins. This feature is very useful for all patients, especially for those that wear makeup – you can take a picture when you have a clean face, save it and upload before your visit!

During a video consult on Amwell, your doctor will ask you a series of targeted questions to determine what type of pink eye you have. The doctor might also ask you to shine a light on your eye for better visibility and inquire about past treatments you have had for pink eye. With our video capabilities, you can bring your phone, tablet or desktop with video close to your eye, so your provider can get a clear view of the illness.

Once a diagnosis has been made, your doctor will go over the risks and benefits of the various treatment plans. Depending on the cause and your severity, your treatment plan may include a combination of:

  • Warm compresses
  • Allergy medications
  • Over-the-counter eye drops
  • Or prescription eye drops

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“If I had not had this option available to me, I might have had to go to the emergency room for a bad case of pink eye.  I was so impressed that this option was available to me on the weekend. It was a time and money saver!”

- Patient from Missouri, Visited with Dr. Minoti Parab

Ask the Doctor About Pink Eye

Video Transcript

You wake up one morning and your eyelashes are crusted together. You look in the mirror and the white of your eyes are now pink or red. Maybe you've had a flare up of your allergies, have had cold symptoms, or maybe one of your children has had bacterial conjunctivitis or pink eye. Pink eye is highly contagious and many people don't realize that it can be so for up to 14 days. The doctors at American Well, with the assistance of your mobile phone or desktop, can make an accurate diagnosis through an online visit. We can get a history of your current illness and with the aid of the camera on your phone, ask you to bring it up to your eye, move the eye around, gently pull down on the lower lid so we can check for any discharge or swelling. Once we come up with a diagnosis we can then create a treatment plan that is customized for you. If you don't respond to the treatment plan within two days, we ask that you follow up with your primary care physician or with your online care physician.

Got Questions? We’ve Got Answers.

See below for answers to some of our most common questions. You can also call us anytime 24 hours a day at 1‑844‑SEE‑DOCS for questions about our services or to speak to a doctor about your symptoms or conditions.

  • What is herpes simplex conjunctivitis?

    This type of pink eye is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1. It differs from other viruses due to the fact that it can induce blurred vision. Other symptoms may occur such as eye pain, redness and increased tear production.


  • What is epidemic keratoconjunctivitis?

    This type of pink eye spreads quickly among a large number of people, usually in schools. This condition will typically last two to three weeks and like the name implies, is a very serious form of pink eye. Symptoms of this condition include blurred vision, yellow discharge, the feeling that a foreign object is lodged in your eye, and sensitivity to light.


  • How does an online doctor determine if a pink eye infection is viral or bacterial?

    Doctors on Amwell take into consideration the specific symptoms and their duration when diagnosing pink eye. A detailed medical history will also help a doctor on Amwell determine the diagnosis and proper course of treatment.

  • Is there over the counter treatment for pink eye?

    Over-the-counter artificial tears can relieve the inflammation and dryness of pink eye (conjunctivitis). Other steps you can take at home are applying warm compresses and avoiding wearing contact lenses until you no longer have symptoms. If your conjunctivitis is caused by allergies, over-the-counter allergy medicines and eye drops may also help. 

    If your pink eye symptoms worsen or don’t get better, or if you have eye pain, intense redness in your eyes or light sensitivity, it’s a good idea to see a doctor who can diagnose the infection and suggest a more targeted treatment plan. Depending on the cause of your pink eye, this could include prescription antibiotic eye drops or ointment, or antiviral medication.

  • How long does pink eye last?

    There are different types of pink eye: viral, bacterial, and allergic. How long your pink eye lasts will depend on what type it is. Viral pink eye typically goes away within a week or two on its own. (There’s no treatment that will cure viral pink eye.) Bacterial pink eye can last a month or longer, even with antibiotic eye drops. Allergic pink eye is likely to remain a problem as long as you’re in contact with whatever it is that you’re allergic to. Both viral and bacterial pink eye are contagious, although you usually can’t spread the bacterial kind after 24 hours on antibiotic treatment. Allergic pink eye is not contagious.

  • How do you get pink eye?

    The most common way to get the contagious form of pink eye is through direct contact with an infected person’s discharge, usually through hand-to-eye-contact. Pink eye can also develop from allergies and exposure to certain chemicals.

  • How long is pink eye contagious? How does it spread?

    Pink eye can be contagious for up to two weeks, or until symptoms subside. Symptoms of pink eye include eye drainage, and red, swollen crusty eyelids. While many cases of pink eye infects only one eye, this infection can spread to the other eye. It is important to practice good hand washing and avoid touching your face when around anyone who has pink eye.

  • What is neonatal conjunctivitis?

    Neonatal conjunctivitis is the type of pink eye that affects newborn children. Newborns typically have a weaker immune system, giving them a higher risk for pink eye. This type of pink eye occurs when the baby passes through the birth canal. If the mother possesses certain types of bacteria, it can cause inflammation and this type of pink eye to occur. To prevent this condition from developing, hospital staff will immediately put newborn-friendly ointment around the baby’s eyes to prevent any bacteria from spreading. However, if some of the bacteria manage to survive, an infection may occur a few days after leaving the hospital.

  • My day care requires antibiotic eye drops to be administered before allowing the child to return. Is this common? How should I approach care for my child if he probably has a viral infection?

    It is very common for daycares to require antibiotic eye drops for your child, especially if infected with bacterial pink eye, which is highly contagious. Even if prescription eye drops, we recommended your children not be around other children, at least until the redness and discharge subsides. It’s always a good idea to talk with a doctor, at any stage of the infection.

  • What is allergic conjunctivitis?

    Allergic conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva - the lining of the eye  - due to allergies. This type of pink eye can usually be confirmed by your doctor based on your symptoms and patient history. Although, to narrow down which allergens are causing the symptoms, a skin test may be helpful. Allergic conjunctivitis is non-contagious.

  • What is chemical conjunctivitis?

    Chemical conjunctivitis is not contagious and occurs as a reaction to chemical-based irritants. This condition could be caused by smoke from vehicles, noxious chemicals, chlorine in swimming pools, etc. Common symptoms include redness, swelling, and decreased vision, along with severe pain in the eye.

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