How does pink eye look when it starts?

Are you feeling a little bit off lately? Maybe your eyes are red, and they start to itch like crazy. It could be that you’re starting to get pink eye! But not all red, itchy eyes are pink eye. So, what exactly does pink eye look like when it starts? Read on, friend.

What is Pink Eye?

Pink eye – also known as conjunctivitis – is an inflammation of the thin layer of tissue that covers the white part of your eyeball (the sclera) and lines the inside of your eyelids (the conjunctiva). There are three types: viral, bacterial, and allergic.

Viral Conjunctivitis

This type is caused by viruses such as adenoviruses, which are responsible for about 80% of all cases. The symptoms begin in one eye then often spread via touch or coughs and sneezes if no preventive measures were taken.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis

Bacterial conjunctivitis occurs when bacteria infects one or both eyes. The most common culprits include Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae among others.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis can occur seasonally from tree pollen or ragweed allergies but may also happen after exposure to irritants such as pet dander or dust mites.

Symptoms vary depending on which type you have contracted; however in general symptoms may include:

  • Redness
  • Tearing/clear discharge
  • Sensitivity to light/photophobia
  • Gritty sensation/foreign body sensation in either or both eyes
  • Swelling around eyelid area

Causes Of Different Types Of Pink Eye

As mentioned earlier, there are different causes for different types of pink eye. Let’s dive deeper.

Viral Causes

Pink eye can be caused by a virus like the common cold, particularly adenoviruses which are airborne and spread easily if you don’t take any precautions. The incubation period for this type of conjunctivitis is usually one or two weeks before symptoms arise.

Bacterial Causes

Bacterial infections occur when your eyes are exposed to bacteria that thrive in warm moist areas such as hot tubs, contact lens cases among others without proper cleaning protocols.

Allergic Causes

Allergies can cause pink eye too as stated earlier; however it doesn’t get passed on from person to person unless they come into direct contact with irritants they have an allergic reaction to.

What Does Pink Eye Look Like?

There are several tell-tale signs of pink eye, depending on what’s causing it:

Viral Conjunctivitis Symptoms

  • Redness- One or both eyes become significantly redder than usual due to inflammation.
  • Tearing/Clear discharge – Watery discharge will begin running down your face at times uncontrollably.
  • Sensitivity To Light/ Photophobia – Lighting acts more blindingly than usual and causes discomforts to irritated sections of the eye surface if exposed
  • Swelling Around The Eyelids: Swollen eyelid tissues may spill over onto cheeks all-around trying their best impression of a froggy

Bacterial Conjunctivitis Symptoms

Unlike viral conjunctivitis bacterial types may produce yellowy-green discharges in isolation of other related nasal-combined bacterial symptoms cropping up unexpectedly alongside other viral strains,

  • Pus-Like Discharge – You might notice clumps or crusty excretions formed by pus around each eyelid area that become worst during sleep time when crusting becomes tangled then difficult let go leading an individual in pain/discomfort episode while trying detangle their eyes gently.
  • Stickiness Of Eyelids – Staying awake for a prolonged period can be challenging with them sticking falling and often becoming part of the pus crust buildup.

Allergic Conjunctivitis Symptoms

People who experience allergies usually suffer pink eye in one or both eyes at once leading to more peculiar symptoms than other types.

  • Watery discharge: Eye tears that look like waterfalls
  • Itchy feeling in one (or both) areas – The inner section of lids becomes flushed with desperation as if being endlessly tickled by hundreds of feather bunnies.

Additionally, none of these conjunctivitis variations should cause vision loss, numbness around your face area (unless it’s along your cheek line), facial swelling including eyelid regions (however puffy they get) vomiting incidents or intense headaches/migraine attacks.


It is not uncommon to catch an unsavory variant type of pink eye but rest assured there are many ways keeping yourself protected through strengthening immunity adopting good health practices such washing hands frequently especially when sick/use tissues/maintaining allergies among others based on “roots causes”. So getting comprehensive treatment may include anti-bacterial drops or antihistamines product(for allergic reactions).

If we’ve learned anything today about pink eye here’s hoping its that everyone must always take care whenever their rainbow colors lose vibrancy because nothing says I’m infectious quite like Excessive Red Eyes Spewing Gunge Everywhere (uplifting right?)

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