Pink Eye is the common name given to what ophthalmologists call conjunctivitis.
There are two forms of this common, usually harmless but annoying condition. Those caused by viruses are associated with watery discharge, are highly contagious. They often start in one eye and then spread to the other. They usually last seven to fifteen days, and are best treated with cool compresses, mild antibiotics and frequent hand washing to avoid spread to other people. Doorknobs, telephones, computers and hand to hand are the most frequent source of transmission.
The bacterial form is associated with pus discharge and waking up in the morning with the lids glued shut. It should be treated with the appropriate antibiotic at very frequent intervals and frequent warm compresses. It usually lasts less than a week and is not usually contagious.
Some types of viral conjunctivitis involve the cornea. In these, the patient experiences sandy sensation and pain in bright light conditions. These are more serious, and may take weeks or even months to get better.