A pink eye is the most obvious symptom of conjunctivitis, so the term "pink eye" often is used for this common eye problem that can have many different causes.

A pink eye, along with itching, burning, stinging, irritation, pain, grittiness, crusting or light sensitivity, are all symptoms that provide clues about the type of conjunctivitis you could have.

Contagious forms of pink eye are usually linked to bacterial or viral infections. Non-contagious pink eye can occur when eye irritants such as allergens, dust and smoke are in the environment. Coughing and sneezing can spread contagious pink eye by spraying tiny droplets from infected mucus into the air. Shared towels also can be infected, as well as table tops, counter spaces and bathrooms.