Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is an inflammation of the mucus membrane that lines the eye and eyelid. It can be caused by infection, allergies or irritants. Symptoms can include itching, swelling, redness and excessive tear production. Pink eye usually is not considered serious and often resolves without treatment.For patients covered by health insurance, out-of-pocket costs typically consist of doctor visit copay, prescription drug copay or coinsurance of 10%-50%. Treatment for pink eye typically is covered by insurance.For patients not covered by health insurance, treatment for pink eye can cost from $50 to almost $200 or more for an initial doctor visit. Treatment can cost less than $50 for cold compresses and artificial tears for viral pink eye. It can cost from less than $15-$120 or more for antibiotic eye drops for bacterial pink eye. And it can cost from less than $15 to $130 or more for antihistamine eye drops for allergy-related pink eye, and up to almost $4,000 for the first year, then up to $1,800 or more per year, for allergy shots.
To diagnose pink eye, your doctor will look for the usual symptoms, such as burning, itchy eyes that discharge a thick, sticky mucus and tearing. Your doctor may take a swab of the discharge from your eye to send to the lab to determine the cause. Often, the cause can be determined from your symptoms, medical history, and the eye exam findings alone. Most of the time, treatment is started right away while lab results are pending. Treatment may then be modified based on the results of lab tests.