Woman with a right infectious pink eye
Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is a common eye infection which affects both adults and children.

Pink Eye Symptoms

Pink eye is a common occurrence that affects both children and adults. It is not pleasant, and it can be a nuisance to treat. You can’t rub the affected area, or it may increase the risk of it spreading to others. That means when you get it, you may have to isolate yourself from others for a short period โ€“ and if not treated early, it can cause more complicated problems. The ‘it’ being referred to is commonly known as pink eye.

Pink eye, clinically known as conjunctivitis, is according to WebMD, “redness and inflammation of the clear membranes covering the whites of the eyes and the membranes on the inner part of the eyelids. Pink eye is most often caused by a virus or by a bacterial infection, although allergies, chemical agents, and underlying diseases can also play a role.”


Several symptoms may indicate one has a form of pink eye. Here are eight symptoms of pink eye you shouldn’t ignore.

Eye Redness

This is a common sign of pink eye. It can occur as part of the condition or could be related to something not connected to pink eye. It may also be an early symptom that pink eye is present.

Swollen, Red Eyelids

Typically, symptoms of an infectious pink eye start in one eye and within a few days show in the other eye if bacteria causes it. If it is a viral pink eye, symptoms will appear in both eyes at the same time. Allergic pink eye usually presents in both eyes where itching is almost always present.

Eye Tearing

Allergic and viral pink eye commonly cause more than usual tear production.

Burning or Itching Eyes

This is an intense feeling so it should stand out beyond a mild sensation that can occur from simply rubbing the eyes after, say, getting a small bit of dust in the eye. The eye would be itchy, or it would feel like there is a burning in the eyes themselves.

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Drainage from the Eyes

For viral pink eye, watery and clear drainage is a common symptom. If there is greenish-yellow drainage from the eye โ€” of which there would be a lot โ€” the bacterial pink eye is likely to be present.

Crusty Eyelids

Eyelids being stuck together in the morning when a person wakes up can be a sign of pink eye from discharge that can accumulate while sleeping.

Light Sensitivity

A mild sensitivity to light can occur with pink eye. If symptoms become more severe, like intense sensitivity to light, alterations in eyesight, or intense pain in the affected area, that can be an indication that the infection has spread.

There can also be a more serious inflammation or infection inside the eye itself. If these more severe symptoms are present, a doctor should examine the symptoms.

Feeling Something in the Eye

A granular feeling in the eye as if there is sand in it can be an indicator of pink eye.

Contact Lens Feel Uncomfortable

It can feel like contact lenses are not properly placed like they are not staying in place or they are causing discomfort.

How is Pink Eye Transmitted?

There are many ways pink eye can occur or spread from person to person. It can happen from something as simple as a common cold. Bacteria from fecal matter or other environmental factors can also cause pink eye. Shampoos, smoke, dirt, pool chorine, a reaction to eye drops, smoke, dust, and pollen, are all potential culprits. Even fungi, parasites, and amoebas can cause pink eye.

Pink eye can spread from a sexually transmitted infection like gonorrhea or chlamydia. If someone has either of these in their body during childbirth, it can be transmitted to the baby through the birth canal. If pink eye presents in a newborn baby, a doctor should be contacted immediately since it could threaten the baby’s vision.

More on the Contagiousness of Pink Eye


Pink eye is highly contagious. If you suspect you or someone else may have it, you may want to avoid sharing objects, touching the affected area, or coughing or sneezing around others.

Though pink eye is rarely serious, it can cause long-term eye or vision damage if not promptly detected and treated. So be careful and aware at the first sign or signs of pink eye symptoms.