Conjunctivitis, which is commonly known as pink eye
, is inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the clear, thin piece of tissue that covers the whites of the eyes and the inner surface of the eyelids.
There are a number of possible causes of conjunctivitis, with the most common types being viral, allergic, and bacterial conjunctivitis. The signs and symptoms of pink eye will vary somewhat based on the specific type of conjunctivitis. Symptoms also will vary between individuals.
Specific Pink Eye Signs and Symptoms
Some common signs and symptoms of conjunctivitis include:
- Pinkness or redness in one or both eyes. It also can begin in one eye and, after a couple of days, spread to the other eye.
- One or both eyes "stuck shut" in the morning.
- Morning crusting.
- Burning, sandy, or gritty feeling.
- Swelling of the conjunctiva and/or eyelids.
The discharge can vary in color (clear, yellow, white, green) and may be thick or thin.
When caused by bacteria, the discharge is usually more pus-like. It also continues to flow throughout the day. Some forms of bacterial conjunctivitis can cause an extremely heavy discharge.
The discharge caused by viral conjunctivitis or allergic conjunctivitis tends to be more watery, with stringy mucus.