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Conjunctivitis - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

Last Updated: Jun 13, 2022

What is Conjunctivitis?

The eyes get inflamed and red in the frontal thin tissue layer that sheaths the eye in conjunctivitis, which is a quite common condition. It is colloquially referred to as red-eye. It generally starts with one eye, but after some hours, also spreads to the other eye.

What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis?

There are a number of symptoms of conjunctivitis which depend upon the cause of inflammation. The most common causes of conjunctivitis are allergic reactions or viral infection. It can be irritating but it rarely affects your vision.

Conjunctivitis symptoms include the following:

  • Swollen conjunctiva
  • Light sensitivity
  • Burning sensation
  • Blurred vision
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Increase tear production
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Thick yellow discharge
  • Itching
Summary: Conjunctivitis causes various symptoms, most among them are redness and swelling of the eyes. Other additional symptoms depend upon the cause of infection.

Does viral conjunctivitis itch?

Viral, bacterial, and allergic conjunctivitis are the three main forms of conjunctivitis. The most contagious is viral conjunctivitis. Bacterial conjunctivitis is contagious as well. It is associated with more severe symptoms.

Conjunctivitis caused by allergies is not communicable. Symptoms of viral conjunctivitis are:

  • Light sensitivity
  • Watery discharge from the eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Watery eyes
Summary: Viral conjunctivitis causes redness and itchiness in your eyes. It is due to the dilation of blood vessels in the conjunctiva.

How is Conjunctivitis diagnosed?

Your ophthalmologist can usually diagnose conjunctivitis only by looking into your eye. He or she can typically tell if the inflammation is caused by a viral or bacterial infection based on your symptoms. To confirm a diagnosis, the doctor may do the following tests:

  • Slit-lamp Test: A slit lamp equipment that comprises a microscope and a high-energy beam of light is usually used to detect conjunctivitis.
  • Medical Conditions: The doctor will also inquire as to whether you've been in close proximity to other people who have conjunctivitis, as well as whether any irritant has come into touch with your eye.
  • Eye Culture: Your doctor uses a cotton swab to take a sample of the cells from your eyelids and sends it to a lab to be evaluated by a pathologist. This assists your doctor in determining the most appropriate treatment.
  • Visual Acuity: A visual acuity test is also used by doctors to evaluate if conjunctivitis has impacted your eyesight. This test assesses your ability to read characters or symbols from a distance of 20 feet while covering one eye at a time.
Summary: There are mainly four ways to diagnose conjunctivitis, i.e. Examining the patient with a slit lamp, enquiring about their previous medical conditions, eye culture, and a test of visual acuity.

How do you know if conjunctivitis is viral or bacterial?

To check whether the conjunctivitis is viral or bacterial you should first check the symptoms of conjunctivitis. The most common symptom of pink eye is that it starts in one eye. Bacterial pink eye is usually caused by an ear or respiratory infection.

Symptoms of viral conjunctivitis include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Burning sensation in the eyes
  • Increased tears in eyes
  • Discomfort

Symptoms of bacterial conjunctivitis include:

  • The whites of the eyes become pink or crimson in color
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Tearing
  • Discharge
  • Itchiness
  • Crusting of the eyelids or lashes

In case of viral infection, the pink eye usually starts from one eye and creates a watery discharge. Bacterial pink eye affects one or both eyes and is caused by a respiratory or ear infection. The discharge is usually heavy, causing the eyes to stick together.

Summary: The doctor can help you know the conjunctivitis is viral or bacterial by knowing your medical history, and the symptoms and by examining your eyes.


It is quite frustrating to have conjunctivitis, especially allergic conjunctivitis. Thankfully it doesn’t have serious health implications in most instances. The conjunctivitis complications are rare. When they do manifest, it might be serious. They include:

  • Extreme cases of allergic conjunctivitis might result in scarring of the eyes.
  • Infective conjunctivitis might result in the infection spreading to other body parts, and may trigger graver secondary infections like meningitis.

How to prevent conjunctivitis?

You must maintain good hygiene to prevent pink eyes. People can prevent conjunctivitis by following the given points:

  • Wash your hands at intervals.
  • Clean towels and washcloths on a daily basis.
  • Towels and washcloths should not be shared.
  • Pillowcases should be changed on a regular basis.
  • Eye makeup and personal eye care products should not be shared.
  • Avoid touching and rubbing your eyes.
Summary: Avoid touching your eyes without washing your hands. Maintain distance from the people infected with conjunctivitis.

Can conjunctivitis go away on its own?

It is sometimes necessary to seek medical attention for conjunctivitis. It can normally be treated by cold compresses and artificial tears. This could help to relieve inflammation and dryness of the eyes. You must go to your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Redness
  • Ocular discomfort
Summary: You need to take eye drops and ointments for the treatment of conjunctivitis, as it may not go away on its own.


Conjunctivitis doesn’t usually need any treatment as the symptoms usually disappear after a few weeks. If treatment becomes necessary, it will be cause dependent. Antibiotic eye drops may be used in extremely severe cases to remove the infection. Irritant conjunctivitis clears up as and when the causative factors are removed. Antihistamine (anti allergic medicine) can be used to treat allergic conjunctivitis. The allergen should be avoided if possible. Contact lenses are best avoided till the time the symptoms clear up. Any crusty or sticky eyelid or lash coating should be cleaned carefully using water and cotton wool.

Regular hand washes and avoiding sharing towels and pillows help stop the transmission. Consult your doctor immediately if there is any:

  • Eye pain
  • Light sensitivity
  • Disturbance in vision
  • Severe redness in both or one of the eyes
  • Conjunctivitis in new born

School and Work

School and work shouldn’t be avoided in case of conjunctivitis unless there is extreme un-wellness. If multiple children in your child’s nursery or school have conjunctivitis, then it is best to keep your children at home till the time the infection subsides. Even adults who are working in such an environment and have close proximity should take a break from work till the time the infection is no more.

Who is eligible for the conjunctivitis treatment?

If your doctor detects the symptoms of conjunctivitis, they may consider referring you for further treatment. If your symptoms are not controlled with antibiotics and eye drops, you can seek care from an ophthalmologist if you aren’t seeing one.

Summary: The treatment is available for those who have severe symptoms of conjunctivitis.

Who is not eligible for the conjunctivitis treatment?

People who do not have severe symptoms of conjunctivitis are not eligible for the treatment. Other medical diseases with distinct symptoms are also ineligible for treatment.

Summary: You are supposed to consult your doctor only if you have some serious symptoms of conjunctivitis.


Inflamed conjunctiva may be so because of the following:

  • A viral or bacterial infection (also called infective conjunctivitis)
  • Dust mite or pollen allergies (also called allergic conjunctivitis)
  • Eye getting irritated by chlorinated water or shampoo or even a stray eye lash (also called irritant conjunctivitis)
  • Neonatal Conjunctivitis
  • Newly born babies under the age of 28 days are affected by neonatal conjunctivitis. Most instances of neonatal conjunctivitis isn’t usually serious. The mother doesn’t usually show any symptoms and thus may be unaware that they have been infected. A doctor should be consulted if there any symptoms of neonatal conjunctivitis in your baby.

What are the conjunctivitis post-treatment guidelines?

Consult your doctor for post-care treatment guidelines. Along with this, try to:

  • Clean your eyes with boiled water or 0.9% sodium chloride
  • Avoid using corticosteroid drops or ointments
Summary: You should avoid going out if you have conjunctivitis and maintain distance from others to prevent infection.

What to eat in Conjunctivitis?

Viral conjunctivitis can be prevented with natural remedies. Probiotics and a vitamin-enriched diet can aid to enhance eye health. If you have conjunctivitis and it is not caused by a bacterial infection, consider these home remedies which would help to relieve your symptoms.

  • Supplement with zinc.
  • Face your eyes with cold compresses.
  • Using clean water, flush your eyes on a regular basis.
  • Sleep well.
  • Drink plenty of water.
Summary: Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, cabbage fruits, and orange-colored vegetables, such as oranges, are good for preventing conjunctivitis.

What not to eat in conjunctivitis?

Foods to be avoided during conjunctivitis are:

  • avoid eating too much meat
  • Food containing high amounts of proteins
  • coffee
  • excessive use of salt, condiments, and sauces.
  • Starchy and sugary foods such as white bread, refined cereals, potatoes, puddings, pies, pastry, sugar, jams
  • sweets should be avoided that are capable of producing catarrh and conjunctivitis.
Summary: You should avoid eating food that contains high proteins as it can worsen the condition of conjunctivitis.

What are the side effects of conjunctivitis treatment?

Side effects of conjunctivitis treatment are:

  • Rashes
  • Itching
  • burning sensation
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • swelling in or around the eyes
  • vision problems
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • restlessness or moodiness (in certain youngsters)
  • difficulty peeing
  • blurred vision, or disorientation
Summary: Rashes, itchy, or burning eyes, redness/pain, swelling in or around the eyes, and vision impairments are all more serious adverse effects of conjunctivitis treatment.

Should I go to urgent care for conjunctivitis?

While some occurrences of pink eye may go away on their own, we recommend seeking urgent care if you have:

  • Headache
  • vision problems
  • sensitivity to light.
  • Fever
Summary: Conjunctivitis does not require urgent care but you must consult your doctor if the condition worsens.

What happens if conjunctivitis is left untreated?

Conjunctivitis can lead to serious consequences if left untreated, like infection might spread to the cornea, lids, and tear ducts. Antibiotic drops help to relieve the discomfort and clear the infection. Oral medications are required for serious illnesses.

Summary: Conjunctivitis requires a proper course of treatment or else it may lead to increased symptoms.

How long does it take to recover from conjunctivitis?

It takes a minimum of two weeks for the recovery of conjunctivitis without the use of antibiotics and medicines. However, viral conjunctivitis can take up to 3 weeks for complete recovery. The doctor may recommend antiviral medicines for the treatment of serious conjunctivitis.

Summary: Mild conjunctivitis may be treated on its own without the use of antibiotics and eye drops in just 2 to 5 days.

What is the price of conjunctivitis treatment in India?

The cost of conjunctivitis treatment in India is as follows:

Out-of-pocket payments for consumers with health insurance often include copays for doctor visits, prescription drug copays, or coinsurance of 10% to 50%.

Treatment for a pink eye might cost anywhere from $50 to nearly $200 or more for those who do not have health insurance. Antihistamine eye drops for allergy-related pink eye can cost anywhere from $15 to $130 or more, with the first year costing nearly $4,000 and the second year costing $1,800 or more.

Summary: You only have to spend money on the medicines required for the treatment of conjunctivitis.

Physical exercises for people suffering from Conjunctivitis:

You should not go out if you still have symptoms as it might spread to uninfected people as well.

Summary: Seeing your doctor is the quickest way to address bacterial pink eye symptoms.

Which is the best medicine for Conjunctivitis?

The antibiotic chloramphenicol, which is available as eye drops, is usually the initial choice to treat bacterial conjunctivitis; it is accessible without a prescription from pharmacies.

Fluoroquinolones, such as moxifloxacin, besifloxacin, and levofloxacin, are generally effective for moderate and severe bacterial conjunctivitis.

Summary: The doctor may advise you to take eye drops and antibiotics such as fluoroquinolones to treat conjunctivitis.

Are the results of the conjunctivitis treatment permanent?

Conjunctivitis can reoccur. Your eyes may react every time you come into contact with an allergen (anything that causes allergies).

Consider taking the following precautions to avoid another bout of contagious pink eye:

  • Use hot water and detergent to wash bed linens, pillowcases, towels, and washcloths.
  • Avoid applying eye makeup.
  • Remove any old eye makeup you may have had and any makeup you may have worn right before the illness started.
  • Instead of using contact lenses, wear glasses.
  • Keep your spectacles clean.
  • Discard the lenses that were previously used.
  • Extensive wear lenses and all eyeglasses casings should be thoroughly cleaned.
  • Contact solutions must be sterile.
Summary: Although bacterial conjunctivitis may recover after three or four days of treatment, the patients must follow the precautions to avoid recurrence.

What are the alternatives to the conjunctivitis treatment?

Povidone-iodine 1.25% ophthalmic solution may be a safe and effective alternative to topical antibiotics for the treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis.

Summary: Antibiotic eye drops might be used to clear the infection.
Summary: Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is characterized by inflammation of the eye's outer layer as well as the inside of the eyelid. Possible side effects are itching, discomfort, redness, tearing and burning. The following are some of the causes: Infection caused by bacteria or viruses, allergies, and irritants. The doctors may prescribe various medicines and antibiotics for the treatment of conjunctivitis.


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