Viral or Bacterial Conjunctivitis

What is conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the clear membrane that covers the eyelids and covers the white of the eye. Conjunctivitis is sometimes called the pink eye.

Conjunctivitis can be caused by many things, including infection by viruses or bacteria. Viruses that cause a cold can lead to conjunctivitis. Some bacteria that cause conjunctivitis are chlamydia, staphylococci and streptococci. Severe conjunctivitis, such as that caused by gonococci, can cause blindness.


Viral and bacterial forms of conjunctivitis can be easily transmitted from person to person. They can be transmitted by coughing or sneezing. Bacteria or viruses can enter your eyes through contact with contaminated objects, such as:

  • Hands
  • Towels
  • cosmetics
  • false eyelashes
  • soft contact lenses;

Symptoms may include:

  • itching or scratching in the eyes
  • Redness
  • sensitivity to light
  • swelling of the eyelids
  • watery secretion
  • purulent secretion

The ophthalmologist will ask you about your medical history and whether you were close to someone who has conjunctivitis. The ophthalmologist will examine your eyes. It will also check for enlarged lymph nodes near your ear and jaw. If conjunctivitis appears to be caused by bacteria, your ophthalmologist can do laboratory tests of a pus sample to see what kind of bacteria there are.

Like a cold, viral conjunctivitis usually subsides on its own, even without treatment. However, your ophthalmologist may prescribe eye drops to help control your symptoms.

If you have bacterial conjunctivitis, your ophthalmologist will prescribe antibiotic drops to you. You can also help your eyes get better by washing them gently to remove any pus or crusts.For very severe forms of conjunctivitis, antibiotics may need to be administered intravenously.If you wear contact lenses, you should stop wearing them until your eyes heal. The combination of contact lenses and conjunctivitis can damage your cornea and cause severe vision problems.

Viral conjunctivitis usually worsens 5 to 7 days after the first symptoms. It can be improved in 10 days to 1 month. If at first only one eye is affected, it may take up to 2 weeks for the other eye to be affected. Usually, if both eyes are affected, the first eye has worse conjunctivitis than the second.

Bacterial conjunctivitis should improve within 2 days of starting the use of antibiotics. If your eyes are not better after 3 days of antibiotics, call your ophthalmologist.

In order not to get conjunctivitis from someone who has it or not to transmit it to others, follow these instructions:

  • Wash your hands frequently. Do not touch or rub your eyes.
  • Never share eye makeup or cosmetics with anyone. Also, if laboratory results show that you have conjunctivitis, throw away the eye makeup you were using.
  • Never use an eye medicine prescribed to someone else.
  • Do not share towels or sheets with anyone. If one of your eyes is affected but not the other, use a separate towel for each eye.
  • Avoid swimming in swimming pools if you have conjunctivitis.Avoid close contact with people until you use antibiotics for 24 hours and if your eye does not have much pus. Children can return to school or the day station after 24 hours of antibiotic therapy.

Call your ophthalmologist if:

  • You have severe pain in the eyes.
  • Your symptoms do not improve after you have used your medicine for 3 days.
  • Your eyes become very sensitive to light, even a few weeks after the disappearance of redness.

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