Symptoms of Pink Eye

Key points

  • Eye redness, swelling, tears, discharge, and itching or discomfort are some of the common signs and symptoms of pink eye.
  • Some symptoms vary depending on the cause.
Baby showing symptoms of pink eye like crusting of eyelids.

Signs and symptoms

Some common signs of pink eye in one or both eyes include:

  • Pink or red color in the white of the eye from visible blood vessels
  • Swelling of the eyelids or thin layer that lines the white of the eye
  • Crusting of eyelids or lashes, especially in the morning
  • Watery, teary eyes
  • Eye discharge (pus or mucus) that may be clear, yellow, white, or green
  • Itching, irritation, burning of the eye
  • Feeling like something is in the eye or an urge to rub the eye
  • Contact lenses feel uncomfortable or do not stay in place on the eye
  • Depending on the cause, other symptoms may occur.
Normal eye compared to an eye with inflamed conjunctiva (or the thin layer over the white of the eye). This is a symptom off pink eye.
Pink eye inflames the layer over the white of the eye, or conjunctiva.


Pink eye can also affect eye vision. See a healthcare provider if you have:

  • Eye pain
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurred vision
  • Intense eye redness

Other symptoms by type of pink eye

Some symptoms vary depending on the cause or type of pink eye.

Viral pink eye
  • Eye discharge is usually watery, not thick
  • Can occur with a cold, flu, or respiratory infection
  • Usually begins in one eye and spreads to the other eye within days
Bacterial pink eye
  • Eye discharge is usually thick pus, which can cause the eyelids to stick together
  • Sometimes occurs with an ear infection
Allergic pink eye
  • Both eyes are usually infected
  • Teary and swollen eyes can occur
  • Intense itching can occur
  • Other allergy symptoms may occur, like an itchy nose, sneezing, a scratchy throat, or asthma
Pink eye caused by irritants
  • Watery eyes can occur
  • Mucus discharge can occur