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Conjunctivitis and Viral Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis and Viral Conjunctivitis - What it is

Conjunctivitis refers to inflammation of the thin, translucent tissue (the “conjunctiva”) that lines the white part of the eye.

When the term conjunctivitis is used, it usually refers to “pink eye” or “sore eyes” – an infection of the conjunctiva due to a virus, or less commonly, due to bacteria. This is typically an acute infection associated with flu-like symptoms and is extremely contagious. Fortunately, viral conjunctivitis will commonly recover on its own, although this may take anywhere from one to three weeks. ​

Other common cause of conjunctivitis may include:

  • Allergies (“allergic conjunctivitis”) – common in patients with underlying allergic disease, such as eczema, asthma and allergic rhinitis.
  • Blepharitis (“blepharoconjunctivitis”) – due to excessive oiliness and inflammation of the eye lids.

Conjunctivitis and Viral Conjunctivitis - Symptoms

You may experience one or more of the following symptoms :

  • Redness of one or both eyes
  • Eye discharge – watery or stringy discharge, with sticky eyes on waking up in the mornings
  • Persistent itch and discomfort
  • Eyelid swelling or swelling of tissue surrounding the eye
  • Other symptoms may include a mild fever, sore throat or runny nose

Conjunctivitis and Viral Conjunctivitis - How to prevent?

To prevent the spread of viral conjunctivitis:

  • Wash your hands before and after touching your eyes or face. The virus may be on your hands, and may then spread to other family and friends when they touch the same surfaces that you have touched
  • Minimise touching of shared surfaces – such as table tops, door knobs and telephones • Do not share towels, linen, pillows and bedsheets
  • Do not share eye drops
  • If possible, take time off from school or work until the eyes are no longer red, to avoid spreading to classmates and colleagues

Conjunctivitis and Viral Conjunctivitis - Causes and Risk Factors

Conjunctivitis and Viral Conjunctivitis - Diagnosis

Diagnosis of viral conjunctivitis is usually made by a family doctor or eye doctor based on the typical symptoms and an eye examination. If the conjunctivitis does not recover, or recurs often, then an eye examination by an ophthalmologist is required to diagnose other forms of conjunctivitis.

Conjunctivitis and Viral Conjunctivitis - Treatments

Treatment is usually symptomatic, to reduce the itch and discharge until the eye recovers. Antibiotic eye drops may sometimes be prescribed if bacterial conjunctivitis is suspected.

Conjunctivitis and Viral Conjunctivitis - Preparing for surgery

Conjunctivitis and Viral Conjunctivitis - Post-surgery care

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The information provided on this page does not replace information from your healthcare professional. Please consult your healthcare professional for more information.

Information provided by Singhealth

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