What is Commonly Misdiagnosed As Pink Eye?


Pink eye isn’t always caused by pink eyes alone – in fact, there are multiple medical conditions with red and discharged eyes with similar symptoms. However, each disease has unique causes and requires different treatments.

Allergic conjunctivitis is a condition that often presents similarly to pink eye, including itching, watery or stringy white discharge, and puffy eyes.

Table of Contents


Pink eye is an infection or inflammation of the transparent membrane (conjunctiva) covering your inner eyelid and white part of the eyeball, commonly caused by bacteria or viruses but also triggered by allergens and irritation such as pet dander, chemicals, dust, or pollen. Allergic conjunctivitis often mimics infectious conjunctivitis but does not spread contagiously; some symptoms overlap, including red or swollen eyelids, watery eyes, and itching; similarly, those suffering allergies may experience runny noses or sneezing similar to viral or bacterial pink eye infections causing red or swollen reddened eyelids while those suffering allergic conjunctivitis may even experience runny noses as well as runny nose and sneezing; such symptoms could even result from viral or bacterial pink eye infections caused by bacteria or viruses!

You can do several things to identify which condition you have, with making an appointment being the best way. When diagnosing you, we will consider your health history, symptoms, and current medications. If necessary, swabs of the corner of the eyes may also be taken and sent off for laboratory analysis to give more concrete answers.

If you or your child exhibit signs of pink eye, stay home until seeing a doctor. Newborn babies may develop conjunctivitis, which should be addressed immediately as it could lead to permanent corneal damage without treatment.

If you have pink eyes and are uncertain whether or not they’re contagious, try applying a warm compress for about 10 minutes as an at-home treatment to soothe symptoms and reduce swelling. To create one easily at home, washcloths soaked with warm water and then wrung out until no drips remain; place over your eyes until cool, then repeat several times daily until symptoms improve or contact a medical provider as other treatment may be recommended.


Styes are painful red bumps that resemble pimples on either the outer eyelid or inner eyelid and result when a small follicle becomes infected, often mimicking pink eye symptoms but without being contagious like the pink eye is. Although most styes clear up within several days, your optometrist may suggest treatments to speed up this process, such as warm compresses, gentle massage, or eyedrops to soothe eyes.

A virus causes viral pink eye, usually the same one responsible for runny noses or sore throats. It spreads rapidly through contact between infected persons’ hands, faces, or personal items. Once initiated in one eye, it typically applies quickly to both, starting as one and spreading over time to both. Bacterial pink eye may be even more contagious and require medical intervention due to Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae bacteria as culprits; its severity could range between pink, yellow, or even green colored discharges depending upon severity.

Pink eye, also known as noninfectious pink eye, can be caused by irritation to the eye due to allergies or chemicals, or it can be an indicator of serious medical issues like autoimmune disorders and herpes infection that require medication treatment.

Optometrists can quickly diagnose pink eye and provide treatment according to your specific condition. To avoid getting pink eye, wash your hands frequently with soap and water – particularly before touching or rubbing your eyes; never use contacts that a physician hasn’t approved; don’t share washcloths, towels, or eye makeup with anyone; always apply sunscreen as protection from UV rays – and if any questions about whether pink eye may be impacting vision then schedule an appointment with an optometrist today.


Pink eye is often misdiagnosed as other medical conditions causing itchy, watery eyes with red skin around them; to make an accurate diagnosis, it’s crucial to be familiar with all types of conjunctivitis and their symptoms so you and your physician can make an accurate diagnosis.

Iritis (also referred to as anterior uveitis) is an inflammation of the iris that often mimics pink eye in terms of symptoms like redness, pain, discomfort in the regard, light sensitivity, and impaired vision.

Assuming you have iritis, symptoms may not go away independently; however, home management strategies may help alleviate them. Lubricate your eyes with over-the-counter ointments or drops and use warm compresses. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun as well. Make a warm compress by soaking a washcloth in warm water, then wring it out before placing it over your eyes for several minutes – this may hydrate and slow tear evaporation and alleviate symptoms.

Reduce your chances of infection by washing your hands regularly, not sharing items like towels and makeup, and frequently changing pillowcases to prevent bacteria and viruses from spreading. It is also important to avoid rubbing or touching the eyes as this could spread bacteria that cause infectious pink eye.

Acute chemical conjunctivitis, which is noncontagious, may be caused by any stimulus that irritates the eyes, such as fumes, smoke, chlorine, or other chemicals; eye infections; or autoimmune diseases like Ocular Rosacea or Sjogren’s Syndrome. It often presents with thick and sticky white or yellow discharge from the eyes along with itchy or swollen eyelids; your doctor can use a special microscope called a Slit Lamp to diagnose this condition by seeing any inflammation or cells present within eyesight; to get an accurate diagnosis for treatment options available to them.


Keratitis, which occurs when the cornea becomes inflamed or infected, also falls under the pink eye category. While less common than conjunctivitis, it may still cause significant discomfort – often more so than pink eye. Furthermore, vision impairment could occur as a result.

Various things can cause keratitis. Herpes simplex virus (HSV), for instance, can lead to viral infectious or non-infectious HSV keratitis; other sources include chemicals, bacteria, parasites, and contact lenses. The main symptoms of this condition include red or pink eyes accompanied by a sticky liquid discharge that changes from yellow to green over time.

Other symptoms of dry eyes or styes include redness, itching, and watery eyes. You may also feel as though there’s something stuck in your eye – either due to dry eyes or styes – so an accurate diagnosis must be made to receive appropriate treatment.

Your doctor can diagnose keratitis by collecting samples of liquid in your eye or under your lid and examining your cornea to ascertain its cause, be it chemicals, bacteria, or parasites such as Acanthamoeba keratitis – a scarce corneal condition found only in freshwater lakes and rivers that can only be contracted without adequate protection when swimming.

Immediately visit a general practitioner or optometrist if you suspect pink eye. It can quickly spread and lead to permanent eye damage if not addressed quickly, with optometrists often finding other conditions misdiagnosed as pink eye, making accurate diagnosis even more complicated than expected. To learn more about eye health issues like pink eye or related conditions, visit Prevent Blindness which strives to end vision loss by providing public and professional education, advocacy services, certified vision screening and training, community service programs, and research initiatives aimed at eliminating blindness and vision loss utilizing public and professional education, advocacy, certified vision screenings/training programs/service programs/research initiatives and research programs aimed at prevention – visit Prevent Blindness to learn more!