Viral Pink Eye Symptoms

Pink eye is the lay term for conjunctivitis of the eye. Conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the membranes that lines the lower eyelids and the eye, can result from viruses, bacteria, environmental factors and allergies. Viruses most often cause conjunctivitis, which can occur in one or both eyes. Inflammation of the conjunctival blood vessels gives conjunctivitis its characteristic appearance. Symptoms of conjunctivitis rarely cause serious problems, although they can prove annoying. Viral conjunctivitis requires no antibiotic treatment, since it’s a self limiting condition.

Appearance of the Eye

The first sign of viral pink eye often occurs early in the morning; your eyes seem glued together. A sticky, stringy, crusty discharge clings to your eyelids. In some cases, the discharge may be more watery than sticky. The eye appears pinkish or red, and has a glassy eyed look, as if you had tears in your eyes.

Functioning of the Eye

Viral pink eye usually does not itch, the Merck Manual states, and usually doesn’t cause swelling of the eyelids, which may occur in other types of conjunctivitis. Your eye may feel sandy or gritty, and it may bother you to open your eyes in bright light, a condition called photophobia. The additional tear production associated with irritation from conjunctivitis can cause blurred vision, the McKinley Health Center states.

Other Symptoms

Swollen, painful to the touch lymph nodes often occur in cases of viral pink eye, according to Merck. In rare cases, damage to the top layer of the cornea, the dome shaped covering of the eye, may occur. Treatment with steroid drops helps heal corneal damage.

About this Author

Suzanne Robin started writing professionally for the Wiley “Dummies” series in 2001. She has co-authored seven books for the series and acted as developmental editor for several more. She has also worked as a registered nurse in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology. Robin received her registered nursing degree from Western Oklahoma State College.