Patients who have red, irritated eyes that occur almost overnight may be dealing with a condition called conjunctivitis, though it is more commonly known as “pink eye.” Conjunctivitis can occur due to bacteria or a virus. Viral conjunctivitis is pink eye that is highly contagious. This infection is often caused by the adenovirus and includes symptoms such as:
- Watery discharge
- Red, irritated eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Feeling of grit or sand in the eye
- Dryness or swelling of the eyelid and lining
- Puffy eyes
- Light sensitivity
When these symptoms exist, patients may be diagnosed with viral conjunctivitis. While common, it can be bothersome to many patients who develop it. Getting a diagnosis is best done with an eye doctor who can determine the cause of the condition and offer effective treatment options. A clinical evaluation will allow our team to decide if the conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria or a virus. This is critical in determining the best possible solution.
Treatments for viral conjunctivitis
Because the condition is caused by a virus, it often needs to run its course. Most patients will experience the condition for anywhere from one to three weeks. Using a cold compress for discomfort is usually the only recommendation. Patients who have the condition should also self-limit themselves to avoid infecting others with this highly contagious condition. This includes washing hands regularly and disinfected high-touch surfaces. In cases where patients struggle with the symptoms of the condition or have more severe cases, an ophthalmologist may prescribe topical corticosteroid drops that can be used in the eyes to address discomfort and speed healing. These drops can only be obtained by a medical professional with a prescription. Pink eye caused by bacteria may instead be treated with antibiotics.
Concerned that you may be dealing with conjunctivitis?
Louisville, KY area residents who are concerned about their eye condition are urged to work with a team of professionals to receive a proper diagnosis and discuss effective treatment options. Our doctors are available at The Eye Care Institute for new and current families, and can be reached by phone to request an appointment at (502) 589-1500.