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Diagnosing Pink Eye

There are several steps a healthcare provider will take in diagnosing pink eye. He or she may ask you questions about your symptoms and medical history, and will perform a physical exam to look for other signs that can help narrow down the potential cause of pink eye. Tests also may be ordered to help determine the specific cause of the condition.

How Is Pink Eye Diagnosed?

When you visit your healthcare provider for a pink or red eye, he or she will begin by asking a number of questions. These may include questions about:
  • Your current symptoms, including any changes in vision or sensitivity to light
  • Any recent illnesses
  • Any recent trauma
  • Any medical history, including a history of allergies (such as hay fever)
  • Any medications you are currently taking
  • Whether you wear contacts.
He or she will then perform a physical exam, looking for other signs that can help narrow down the potential cause of pink eye.

Tests to Help Diagnose the Cause of Pink Eye

Once your healthcare provider has performed a physical exam, he or she also may order some tests to help determine what is causing your symptoms.
One test may be a rapid test to look for conjunctivitis caused by the adenovirus. Adenovirus is the most common cause of viral conjunctivitis. This test takes about 10 minutes and will allow your healthcare provider to determine if this is what is causing your pink eye.

Before Diagnosing Conjunctivitis

Several conditions can cause a red or pink eye. Before your doctor diagnoses you with conjunctivitis, he or she will rule out a number of these potentially serious conditions. These include:
  • Infectious keratitis
  • Iritis
  • Angle closure glaucoma
  • A foreign body in the cornea or conjunctiva
  • Hyphema
  • Hypopyon.
Other causes of a pink or red eye that will also be ruled out include:
  • A stye
  • Chalazion
  • Blepharitis
  • Canaliculitis
  • Dry eye syndrome
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage
  • Episcleritis
  • Corneal abrasion.
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Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis) Information

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