What Is Pink Eye?

What is Pink Eye? 

man with pinkeye infection

Pink Eye, or Conjunctivitis, is one of the most common eye ailments. It is very contagious, and should be treated as quickly as possible to avoid spreading. In this blog, we’ll discuss the signs and symptoms of pink eye, and when you should seek treatment from a doctor. 

Types of Pink Eye

Pink Eye is an inflammation of the the white part of the eye,  known as the sclera. It occurs in several forms. Viral Pink Eye is the most common form, and is usually caused by a virus called adenovirus. It often occurs when a cold or respiratory infection is present. Bacterial Pink Eye is occurs when bacteria enters the eye. It can be caused by a variety of bacteria. Allergic Pink Eye is caused when an allergen irritates the eye, causing inflammation. 

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of all forms of pink eye tend to be similar, and this can make it difficult to know what form you have. The most common symptoms are:

  • Pinkness or Redness of the white part of the eye
  • Discharge that may be clear, white, yellow, or green
  • Itchy, burning, or irritated eyes
  • Swollen or crusty eyelids
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Feeling like there something in the eye
  • Blurry vision
  • Cold or sore throat


Viral Pink Eye may be caused by a variety of viruses, including COVID-19. It can occur when infected droplets enter the eye, such as when someone coughs or sneezes. It can also occur when a person touches an infected object, such as a doorknob, and then touches their eye. 

Bacterial Pink Eye may be caused by a variety of bacteria, including strains of Streptococcus and Staphylococcus. It is spread much like viral pink eye.

Allergic Pink Eye may be caused by a variety of allergens, including dust and pollen. It often occurs with other allergy symptoms, such as a runny nose. It is not contagious. 

Pink eye can also be caused by irritants like chlorine, makeup, dust, or contact lens wear. 


If you think you have pink eye, you should call your eye doctor. Pink eye may resolve on its own, but it is important to let your doctor assess your symptoms to make sure you are diagnosed correctly. Viral pink eye may be treated with antiviral drops. This is especially common if pink eye is caused by the herpes simplex or varicella-zoster virus. Bacterial pink eye may be treated with antibiotic ointments or drops. Allergic pink eye may be treated with allergy medications, which may be in the form of eye drops or oral medication. Your doctor may instruct you to use over the counter artificial tears or cold compresses to alleviate symptoms. For more information about eye drops, read our blog Choosing The Right Eye Drops. 


The best way to prevent pink eye is to keep your hands clean. 

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol based hand sanitizer. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes and face. 
  • Do not share makeup with others. 
  • Replace makeup brushes frequently.
  • Do not allow eye drop containers to touch your eyes.
  • Wash pillowcases frequently in hot water. 
  • Follow your doctor’s recommendations for cleaning, storing and replacing contact lenses. 
  • Clean your eyeglasses regularly with soap and water. 

If you do get pink eye, throw away or sanitize any item which may reinfect you or others. This includes makeup, makeup brushes, towels, contact lenses, contact lens cases and solutions, and eye drops.

If you have symptoms of pink eye, call your doctor. These symptoms may be an indication of other eye problems. To schedule an eye exam, call or text (907) 328-2920. Thank you for taking the time to read our blog, and be sure to check out all of the posts on our website at www.mountainvieweyes.com.

Written by:

Gina Stafford COA, LDO, ABOC

Posted in: Eye Health Guide

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