3 Common Types of Dreaded Pink Eye & Important Details You Need to Know

When you look at someone, often the first thing you notice is their eyes. If those eyes are red or pink, it’s pretty noticeable. We’ve all likely heard “pink eye” whispered with dread. We don’t want to judge, but we also fear bringing home a nasty eye infection. 

A thin clear membrane (the conjunctiva) covers the surface of our eyes. Pink eye (conjunctivitis), is inflammation — or an infection — of this membrane. It’s irritating and concerning for anyone dealing with it. (Not to mention scary, because it’s often highly contagious.)


Eye On Health is here to serve you and your family for all your eye care needs. Our Phoenix eye doctor doesn’t want you to suffer from pink eye and offers convenient care near you. 

If you’re wondering if you, or maybe your child (hello school year!), have conjunctivitis, keep reading to find out if you need to schedule an appointment with us.

What Causes Pink Eye and The Icky Symptoms You’ll Experience

There are many causes of pink eye but today, we’ll focus on the three most common types: viral, bacterial, and allergic conjunctivitis.

Viral Pink Eye

The most common form, it’s caused by viruses that make us sick—  like when we have a sore throat, common cold, or even COVID-19.

It’s important to note: this form of pink eye is highly contagious. Diligent handwashing is important until symptoms resolve. Try not to touch your eyes to reduce the chance of spreading it to others. (We know, easier said than done.)

Symptoms of Viral Pink Eye:

  • Watery eyes

  • Burning eyes

  • Red eyes

  • Itching

You might experience these conjunctivitis symptoms in one or both eyes. Since it’s so contagious, people often end up with it in both eyes because it transfers very easily. Change pillowcases often to cut down the length of time you suffer from this type.


Bacterial Pink Eye

Bacterial conjunctivitis comes from different forms of bacteria that enter our bodies. For example, a respiratory infection can cause bacterial conjunctivitis.

Another example is wearing contact lenses. If you aren’t regularly washing your hands before adjusting your contacts or removing your lenses at night — it can lead to bacteria directly entering your eyes. This form of pink eye is also highly contagious.

Symptoms of Bacterial Pink Eye:

  • Eye pain

  • Red-eye

  • Sticky pus or mucus discharge*

  • Crusty eyelashes that stick together (or even seal your lids temporarily)

*Not all forms of bacterial conjunctivitis cause discharge or pus. Depending on the root cause and type of bacteria, you may experience variations in symptoms.

Allergic Pink Eye

Conjunctivitis caused by allergies is very different from the other types. It usually occurs in both eyes because of an irritant that triggers an allergic response. Think pollen, cats, or even car fumes. Read more on our blog about eye allergies here.

While this type of pink eye is no walk in the park, we’re happy to share: it’s not contagious. Since it’s an allergic reaction, you can’t spread it to others. (At least a little good news, right?)


Symptoms of Allergic Pink Eye:

  • Severe itching

  • Intense redness

  • Watery eyes

  • Puffy eyelids

Did you notice a trend with each type of pink eye? They’re SO similar and the symptoms make it hard to differentiate which one you have! Should you just deal with it? Or is it time to see your local Phoenix eye doctor, Dr. Balocca? Let us help you decide the best course of action.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment today or call us at (408)-809-0550!

Treatments for the 3 Most Common Types of Pink Eye

We’ve got good and bad news about pink eye treatments. 

The viral form cannot be treated and just has to “run its course.” Your body will fight off the infection with time and good immune support. It usually resolves after 1-2 weeks, but you might have to put up with it for up to 3. 

Bacterial pink eye can be treated usually with an antibiotic eye drop. But it’s not always needed. This is why having an eye exam with your Phoenix optometrist at Eye On Health is so important. (Why suffer if you don’t have to?) Usually, this conjunctivitis goes away in 2-5 days, but it can last up to 2 weeks. 

Allergic conjunctivitis is a bit more complicated since it’s an immune response to an irritant in your environment. The first step is making sure you figure out — and stay away from — whatever is causing a reaction. If that’s not possible, (and let’s be real – you have to go outside), you still can alleviate some of your symptoms.

Try over-the-counter, preservative-free eye drops or allergy medicine. We still recommend calling our office or consulting with your primary care doctor to discuss the best approach for your specific case. 

Tips to Properly Care for Pink Eye at Home:

  • Avoid touching and rubbing your eyes.

  • Follow Dr. Balocca’s instructions if you wear contacts. (Most of the time, you need to switch to glasses until conjunctivitis clears up.)

  • Wash your hands OFTEN. If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer with alcohol.

  • If your eyes discharge mucus, pus, or liquid, gently clean them one at a time. Always use a clean, warm washcloth or fresh cotton ball for each eye. (Never reuse!)

  • Don’t share personal items like makeup, glasses, or pillowcases until pink eye resolves.

Your biggest weapon against conjunctivitis? 

An eye exam with a compassionate optometrist near you — who understands dealing with this isn’t fun!


Trusting Your Eye Doctor is Vital to Your Eye Health

When you’re dealing with uncomfortable eye symptoms or vision issues, you shouldn’t hesitate to get the care you deserve by visiting an eye doctor near you. And it shouldn’t be a drag to go either.

As a patient of Dr. Balocca, you’ll receive hometown care, which he proudly brings to our big city of Phoenix. If you’re near Waddell or Luke Air force base, you have an eye doctor close by who understands how precious your vision is! Come in for your comprehensive exam and experience the difference.

Let us support all your eye care needs. Call (408) 809-0550 or schedule your appointment today!


  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pink-eye/symptoms-causes/syc-20376355#:~:text=Pink%20eye%20(conjunctivitis)%20is%20the,your%20eyelashes%20during%20the%20night.

  2. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/pink-eye-conjunctivitis

  3. https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/pink-eye/treatment-pink-eye

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